Kobe Bryant: Pau Gasol will be a Laker as long as I am

Things in Lakerland appear to be brightening up. Keystone Light connoisseur Steve Nash is now handling the point. It’s apparently still not out of the question for Dwight Howard to join the team. And now Kobe Bryant is lending his support behind the beleaguered Pau Gasol.

After a markedly disappointing regular season and playoffs, Gasol became the scapegoat by many for the Lakers’ struggles. And it was Kobe who targeted Gasol with criticism more than once in the postseason. And with trade chatter continuing to surround the Spaniard, the belief was that Kobe was playing at least some part in its existence.

But, speaking to reporters in Spain on Team USA’s pre-Olympic exhibition tour, Kobe tried to put to rest the rumors that he and Gasol have some sort of rocky relationship:

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Timberwolves once again actively pursuing Pau Gasol trade, report says

Pau Gasol teaming with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio and also Kevin Love? Sounds good to the Timberwolves. But the key now is finding a way to convince those stingy Lakers to pull the trigger. From The AP:

The Wolves’ interest in Gasol has long been rumored, with the highly skilled big man considered an ideal fit for coach Rick Adelman’s corner offense, and the kind of playoff-tested veteran needed on one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. [...]

[I]f they want to bring him in to play alongside Love in the frontcourt, it likely will come at a hefty price. Offering [Derrick] Williams, the second overall pick last season who showed promise and inconsistency in his rookie year, means the Wolves would be giving up on him after just one season. The 21-year-old Williams has plenty of potential to grow into the star that many projected when he entered the draft after his sophomore season at Arizona.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Wolves have reportedly offered Williams to the Lakers in a rumored Gasol swap, as Minnesota’s interest in Gasol apparently goes back to at least a year ago.

As part of their latest run for Gasol, the Timberwolves tried to turn Williams into the Bobcats’ second overall pick in Thursday’s draft, which would have been sent to Los Angeles in a possible Gasol deal. The Lakers had been reported as hoping to move into the top of the draft somehow in hopes of taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG went to the Bobcats with that second pick.

However, the Lakers, for better or worse, reportedly expect to see an established, veteran player additionally sent along in any Gasol trade. The Timberwolves have a few players who fit that bill (namely J.J. Barea), but it’s unclear what type of interest the Lakers have in any of them.

Minnesota thinks it can make the moves necessary to maneuver its cap figures around for Gasol. But even before then, it still sounds like the Wolves have their work cut out for them.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Lakers reportedly open to trading Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace

The Lakers are reportedly shopping two of their most recognizable players, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. From ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers have been contacting teams in an effort to acquire a top-10 pick in Thursday’s draft. The Lakers also are seeking an established player along with the pick if they’re to part with Gasol.

The Lakers are reportedly have their sights set on Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is projected to be selected somewhere in the top 10, if not top five, in the draft. The Lakers currently don’t have any picks in the first round.

One team reportedly willing to be a trading partner with the Lakers is the Hawks, who are offering the disgruntled Josh Smith in exchange for Gasol. The Hawks, however, don’t draft until the 23rd pick, far from the top-10 selection the Lakers covet.

This report is just the latest in Gasol long appearing headed out of town. Jim Buss almost comically seemed pretty sure last week that Gasol won’t be going anywhere.

Meanwhile, the Lakers might have a tougher time unloading World Peace. More from ESPN:

While the Lakers would be looking for considerably less, such as a late first-round pick or perhaps some cap relief, World Peace’s contract obligations (two years, $15 million remaining on his deal) — combined with a 15 percent trade kicker — might prove too much for another team to bear.

Much like how some families are stuck with that annoying drunk uncle, the Lakers appear stuck with Metta World Peace.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Jim Buss: Lakers are not trading Pau Gasol

After the Lakers flamed out in the playoffs for the second season in a row, people figured the team would make significant personnel changes. The common thought has been that either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol would be traded, and that it was Gasol who was most likely gone.

Gasol was dealt to Houston in a three-way trade before the season began, but he remained in LA after the deal was overruled by David Stern. Gasol was distracted by trade rumors all season, and a report recently stated that the Lakers were committed to trading him this offseason.

Jim Buss says otherwise.

Buss told the LA Times that chances are “very good” that Gasol, Bynum, and Kobe Bryant are all with the team to start next season.

Instead of a trade, Buss envisions changes regarding the way Gasol is used.

“I think changes are going to be made moving Pau lower to the basket,” he told the Times. “We can improve that way with a change in coaching strategy rather than a change in personnel.”

This was one of the areas Phil Jackson criticized during his interview with HBO’s “Real Sports.” He said the extra use of Bynum took away Gasol’s usefulness.

I’m not sure if I believe Buss. The Lakers have been swept in the playoffs the last two seasons and have fallen behind the Thunder. Buss knows that, and that’s why he tried changing the roster before last season. I’d be surprised if he didn’t try to do the same thing again, regardless of what he says.

Chest bump to I am a GM
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Lakers reportedly ‘committed’ to trading Pau Gasol

Possibly more bad news for Pau Gasol‘s future with the Lakers. With the incessant trade chatter surrounding L.A.’s favorite scapegoat far from relenting, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News drops this interesting little tidbit about Gasol’s potentially impending departure:

The Lakers are committed to moving Pau Gasol — the fall guy for their second-round ouster against the Thunder and previous playoff failures — even if they have to take back less talent. As long as [owner Michael] Heisley retains the Grizzlies, Memphis will always have interest. Heisley has always wanted to bring Gasol back, pairing him with his brother, Marc.

If the Grizzlies would indeed be the Lakers’ trading partner in a Gasol swap, it should be interesting to see if the Lakers try to make a play for Rudy Gay, whom the Grizzles have been rumored as willing to part with in a cap-saving move.

But for now, if it wasn’t already, it’s pretty clear how badly the Lakers are unsatisfied with Pau if they’re openly willing to receive less in return just to have him off their hands. Or should we be saying how badly Kobe is unsatisfied?

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Pau Gasol interested in playing for the Bulls, says Bulls website

Derrick Rose previously said that he would love for Pau Gasol to join him on the Bulls. And if you want to believe the Bulls’ own website, Gasol, probably on his way out of Los Angeles, doesn’t think that’s such a bad idea, either. Here’s Bulls.com:

The interesting part, according to Lakers’ insiders, is Gasol would like to play for the Bulls. And what you hardly need any sources for is to see how he and Bryant basically can’t stand one another. It was no secret around L.A. what all those post series comments were about. “We got to be committed to each other,” said Ron Artest. “This year we wasn’t as committed collectively, and that hurt us a lot.” Said Bynum: “We just weren’t doing it together.”

That was because Bryant and Gasol were constantly at odds. And that came out several times in the playoffs with the two frequently arguing on the court and Bryant again questioning Gasol’s heart.

This would obviously be an upgrade for the Bulls if it can happen. I repeat: if it can happen. Because a Gasol trade would be a tall order. His obscene contract aside (4 years, $60.6 million), it’s doubtful the Lakers would want any part of Carlos Boozer, who would not be the answer to any of the Lakers’ problems. Not without side pieces included in the deal.

But of course Gasol would be down for a move to Chicago. Not just because he’d be going from a team of total disorganization to a legitimate title contender (when Rose gets healthy), but also because he’d be going someplace where he’s wanted. And maybe the key to seeing the Pau of old rather than the Pau who locked up in the playoffs will just be a hug.

Photo: Fevre/Presse Sports via US PRESSWIRE

Blake Griffin dunks over Pau Gasol on thunderous follow (Video)

Blake Griffin was at it again Wednesday doing what he does best: throwing down ridiculously fierce dunks. He scored the Clippers’ first points in their game against the Lakers by following a Randy Foye missed three with a dunk over Pau Gasol.

As if that dunk wasn’t enough, Griffin threw down on Gasol AGAIN. Here was his monster dunk from the third quarter:

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