It has been about a week since Mike D’Antoni opted to move Pau Gasol to the Lakers’ bench in favor of Earl Clark. Gasol’s unhappiness with the move has been well-documented and only has ramped up speculation that he could be moved before the trade deadline.
Gasol told Ken Berger of CBS Sports on Monday that while he maintains his unhappiness, he will not directly or indirectly request a trade from the team with which he has won two titles since his arrival in 2008. Gasol is “all in” for the remainder of the season:
“It’s hard for anybody who considers himself one of the top players in the world to say, ‘OK, I’m OK with coming off the bench. It’s a difficult situation that we’ve been dealing with here. The last few games have been great, and we’re staying positive and we look forward to that to continue. But at the same time, we don’t need any other distractions, any more negativity. We need positive embracing, we need focus, we need to support each other. That’s where we’re at and that’s where I’m at, too,” he said.
However, Gasol has $19.3MM left on his contract for next year, and told Berger that he can’t envision a scenario where he would be comfortable returning to the Lakers next year as a bench player.
“I’ve been on this team, in this city, for six years. It’s very hard to stick around on this team, and I take pride in that. I think I’m a valuable asset and I want my role to be as big as it can be, within the well being of the team. But I don’t know if being a player that comes off the bench will be something that I’ll be able to accept long term,” Gasol said.