After enduring years of trade rumors and constant change in Los Angeles, Pau Gasol finds himself on the final year of his deal with the Lakers. After earning more than $156MM over the course of his career, the forward told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo that he’ll be looking for more than money in his next contract.
“In the last years of my career I want to enjoy, I want to have the chance of winning, aside from being financially compensated,” Gasol said. “If you have to choose, best thing is to be in a situation where you can win another ring. [This]team there’s a lot of ifs with our team: We don’t know how Kobe will be. There’s a lot of things we don’t know about this team,” said Gasol (translation courtesy of HoopsWorld’s Steve Kyler).
Gasol is earning $19.2MM in his walk year and whlle the Lakers have said repeatedly that they won’t be trading him, one has to wonder if they might consider moving him if they can get something of value for the pending free agent. Through 18 games this season, the Spaniard is averaging 14.3 PPG and 9.9 RPG.
On a day when Derrick Rose was ruled out for a second straight season and the Timberwolves agreed to trade 2011′s second overall pick to Sacramento, Kobe Bryant dominated NBA headlines. The Lakers star signed a two-year extension with the team worth $48MM+, ensuring that he’ll remain under contract through 2016. We passed along several reactions to the agreement last night, but updates continue to trickle in, so today’s round of Lakers notes focuses heavily on Kobe’s new deal. Let’s dive in….
- Bryant tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that he and the Lakers didn’t really negotiate his extension. According to Bryant, the team proposed a deal and he “simply agreed to the offer.”
- Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles that the Buss family felt like the extension was the “right thing to do.”
- Buss on the deal: “This wasn’t something I decided to do; this wasn’t something [general manager] Mitch Kupchak decided to do. This was a Buss family decision…. We made him the highest-paid player in the NBA because we felt like it was the right thing to do. This wasn’t about what somebody else would pay him or outbidding anyone for him.”
- It’s possible the Lakers will waive Steve Nash using the stretch provision next summer. But that would likely only happen if that extra $6MM+ in cap space would be the difference between the team signing or not signing a top target, says Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. Stretching Nash’s cap hit would give L.A. less flexibility in 2015 and 2016, which could discourage the club from going that route.
- Asked today if he’ll be the next Laker to sign an extension, Pau Gasol replied that he hasn’t talked to the team about it, and is keeping his focus on the court for now (Twitter links via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA and Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times). Kupchak later confirmed that the team isn’t currently planning on an in-season extension for Pau (Twitter link via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News).
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton presents a few best-case scenarios for the Lakers in the wake of Kobe’s extension.
It’s been an exciting night around the NBA. Let’s take a look at some headlines that have surfaced throughout the league:
- Lakers forward-center Pau Gasol wishes Dwight Howard luck in Houston and respects his decision to leave L.A., reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles. Gasol, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013/14 season, will have the opportunity to follow in Howard’s footsteps if he wants a change of scenery. It’s been reported that Gasol has expressed interest in remaining in Los Angeles, but it’s too early to make any assumptions.
- Speaking of Howard, the dominant big man sat down and told Sam Amick of USA TODAY that he was tired of talking about his decision to leave the Lakers: “It’s time for everybody to get over it. It happened. It’s in the past. I’ve gotten over it. It didn’t work out (with the Lakers last season). The timing was off. It just wasn’t (there). Everybody was injured.”
- Michael Redd has officially retired tonight tweets Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times. He goes on to say that several teams tried to lure Redd to camp last summer, and among them was the Spurs.
- Redd has interest in rejoining the Bucks in some capacity, but not in a coaching role, Woelfel also tweets.
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that Kevin Martin has clarified he was not speaking ill of former teammate Kevin Durant on Sunday when he said of the Timberwolves: ”This is such a fun team to play on. Nobody is trying to lead the league in scoring here.” Wednesday morning, Durant told local reporters in Oklahoma City: “I know K-Mart. He’s not that type of guy.” Martin signed a four-year deal with the Wolves this offseason after a one-year stint with the Thunder.
Rejoining Oklahoma City for his first game since getting injured during last season’s playoffs, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook sat down with NewsOK’s Darnell Mayberry to discuss his return. When asked if he feels just as explosive as he was before the injury, Westbrook replied:
“Yeah. I feel great. I feel I’m in a good spot. I’m happy and blessed to be able to be able to play basketball again and go on the floor and fight for my teammates. First, I want to thank all the fans and all my family and friends and maybe some of you guys for your support throughout this period. It’s been a tough one, but I’m happy to be back.”
With that aside, here are some more links to share from around the Western Conference tonight:
- Though Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld had earlier intimated that Steve Nash has little trade value as of now, Alex Kennedy (also of Hoopsworld) tweets that the former MVP could indeed be traded and hears from multiple sources that the Raptors are a possible landing spot.
- Responding to his followers on Twitter, Kyler downplayed the likelihood that Pau Gasol and/or Nash get traded this season. Kyler reasons that Gasol and Nash make too much money for other teams to be interested, and that clearing Pau’s salary off their cap next July is much more valuable to the Lakers than shopping his expiring contract at the trade deadline (All Twitter links).
- Sam Amick of USA Today talks about what Westbrook’s return means for the Thunder.
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times provides a brief parallel between Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and the Rockets’ Dwight Howard as far as struggling to mesh with their respective coaches last season and being in better situations now. On a much lighter note, Howard credited “playing slower songs in his head” for his recent minor streak of improved shooting from the free throw line (Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets).
- Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw might consider re-shuffling his starting lineup to include Kenneth Faried at power forward, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.
Let’s head to Hollywood for the latest on the Clippers and Lakers:
- Pau Gasol addressed his upcoming free agency in a video with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. “It’s going to be the first time that I’m going to be a free agent (to) see what’s out there, what’s the best situation,” Gasol said. “My career, the years that I have left are very few. So I have to be conscientious of that and maximize my time and opportunities. At the same time, I’d love to stay with the (Lakers) and stay with a franchise that has given me so much. We’ve been through so many different things, and I want to continue. That’s kind of my desire.”
- Another current Laker who will be gaining attention for a new contract next summer is current training camp invite Xavier Henry. Henry is taking full advantage of his fully unguaranteed minimum salary contract as he is currently the Lakers’ third-leading scorer, albeit over a small sample size. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times examines Henry’s sudden relevance.
- Clippers guard Willie Green has switched agents and is now represented by Aaron Goodwin and Muhammad Abdur-Rahim of Goodwin Sports Management, tweets Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype. According to the Hoops Rumors Agency Database, Goodwin Sports Management also represents fellow Clipper Matt Barnes along with other notable clients — DeMar DeRozan, Nate Robinson, and current Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni says the way he emphasized Dwight Howard over Pau Gasol in his offense last season “wasn’t fair” to the Spaniard, admitting that “if nobody had names on their jerseys,” the situation would have been different, as USA Today’s Sam Amick observes.
“It was hard to be in that position,” said Gasol, a free agent at season’s end. “I understood the politics of it, and why things were a certain way, but it didn’t make it any easier during the process. But you learn and move on and you grow, and you go to the next chapter. I’m excited about my new position. It’s a different situation, a different team. I’m happy and proud to continue to be here, despite everything. I’m ready to play and have a great year.”
That year is just about to start, with the first games of the 2013/14 season just hours away. Here’s the latest from around the Association:
- Jazz CEO Greg Miller, coach Tyrone Corbin, and Derrick Favors all conveyed hopes today that Gordon Hayward remains in Utah long-term, a sentiment Hayward himself echoes. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News has the details as Thursday’s deadline for Hayward to sign an extension looms.
- The Timberwolves aren’t among the teams interested in Shannon Brown, whom the Wizards waived today, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
- The Wolves announced a deal for renovations to the Target Center today, but Bucks owner Herb Kohl says the NBA prefers there be a new arena in Milwaukee rather than a renovation to the Bucks’ existing home, notes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.
- Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has changed agents, signing with Steve Kauffman of Kauffman Sports Management Group, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Warren LeGarie had previously represented Hollins.
- The Bulls signed Kalin Lucas and Patrick Christopher in September and waived them on the second day of training camp. The maneuver allowed Chicago to sign their other camp invitees to summer contracts that gave the team an out in case they suffered an injury, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports explains in a piece for HoopsWorld.
A Spurs intern lost Manu Ginobili‘s signed contract while traveling home from Buenos Aires, where the Argentinian swingman had inked the deal this summer, but Ginobili later signed a replacement copy when another Spurs staffer met up with him, as Jeré Longman of The New York Times reveals in a piece that examines San Antonio’s long history with international players. The Spurs may have suffered ill fortune in the Finals, but at least they don’t have to worry about what might have happened if the intern’s mistake had manifested into a change of heart for Ginobili. Here’s more from the West:
- A report today indicated that Pau Gasol isn’t off-limits as the Lakers explore trade possibilities, but the team remains committed to the 33-year-old big man and views him as key figure this season, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link).
- Kings coach Michael Malone expects the team to make its first round of camp cuts within the next couple of days, notes Bryan May of News 10 Sacramento (on Twitter). The team has 14 fully guaranteed contracts, as our roster counts show, meaning its remaining four players are likely battling for one opening-night roster spot.
- The Lakers added a pair of assistants to their D-League coaching staff today, hiring Casey Owens and Thomas Scott, tweets Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
In Sam Amico’s latest piece for FOX Sports Ohio, he focuses on last August’s Dwight Howard trade, which initially looked like a questionable move for the Magic. Given the fact that Orlando ended up with the best long-term pieces in the deal, it’s an illustration of why we shouldn’t immediately decide whether teams “won” or “lost” a trade or signing, writes Amico. The FOX Sports Ohio scribe also shares a few rumors and rumblings from around the NBA, so let’s check out the highlights….
- An Eastern Conference executive tells Amico that his team has heard from the Lakers recently, and that word around the league suggests L.A. may look to make a “substantial” move before the season begins. Pau Gasol isn’t untouchable, writes Amico.
- Given the questions surrounding Steve Nash‘s health and age, a young scoring point guard may be on the Lakers‘ wish list, though it won’t be easy to obtain one.
- The Nuggets are also potentially willing to make a move or two before the season, and Amico speculates that a trade candidate like Jimmer Fredette or a free agent like Richard Hamilton could be a fit.
- Hamilton, Sebastian Telfair, and Daniel Gibson are among the veteran free agents who may draw interest before opening night.
- The Cavaliers seem to “really like” camp invitees Matthew Dellavedova and Jermaine Taylor, but are unlikely to have the room to keep both on their regular season roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team tried to get the odd man out to join the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s D-League affiliate.
We already covered the East, now let’s check in on what is happening around the league out West tonight:
- Brandan Wright sustained a small, non-displaced fracture to his left shoulder that is unlikely to require surgery, the Mavericks announced today. Wright, who re-signed with the team in July, is entering his sixth year in the league and third with the Mavs. No timetable has been set for his return.
- Rookie point guard Trey Burke is concentrating on making a good impression on his opponents as the Jazz‘s preseason gets into full swing, writes Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune. Burke, who the Jazz took in June at No. 9, figures to run the point for a young but talented team in Utah.
- Blake Griffin suffered a bone bruise in his left knee in a Wednesday night scrimmage while attempting to dunk, writes Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times. Griffin’s precautionary MRI showed no structural damage, reports Turner, but the All-Star forward is still likely to miss an undisclosed amount of practice and preseason time.
- If Pau Gasol, more physically and mentally ready than he’s been in years, has the type of season he expects to have in Los Angeles, he believes the Lakers will want to re-sign him in the offseason, writes Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. However, Gasol is unlikely to be willing to accept a significant pay cut to stay in the purple and gold, per Medina. Gasol will make $19.3MM this year.
Lakers big man Pau Gasol has dealt with trade rumors for years and as he enters the final season of his contract, he’s no closer to getting an assurance of job security. The Spaniard told reporters today that the Lakers have yet to approach him about a contract extension, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“If the team is interested, they will approach me and at some point there will be some kind of meeting,” Gasol said. “But I’m not sure when or how. I think it’s going to depend on how I perform during the season. The better I perform, I’m sure the more interested they will be to try to sign me, I guess.“
Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 PPG last year and his 46.6% rate from the floor was his worst of any season. He didn’t fare much better on the boards, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game, his lowest average since 2007/08.
On the plus side, Gasol reports that his knees feel a whole lot better after undergoing treatment for tendonitis. The veteran will earn $9.3MM in the final year of his contract.