Lakers Notes: Gasol, Bryant, Howard

Not only were they swept by the Spurs, but the Lakers lost all four games to San Antonio by double digits, culminating in Sunday's game four defeat at the Staples Center.  Today was exit interview day for the Lakers in Los Angeles.  Let's round up all the news coming out of those meetings here as it is reported throughout the night:

  • D'Antoni expressed confidence that a full offseason with the talented Lakers squad could make a world of difference under his command, writes Trudell.  The Lakers coach thought the team progressed in the second half and that their playoff hopes were largely derailed by injury.  
  • Like D'Antoni, Blake thinks the Lakers have the talent to win now, per Trudell.  Blake thought he fit well into D'Antoni's system, but admitted that either the system or the roster would probably have to be tweaked to make it work. 

Earlier updates:

  • Pau Gasol acknowledged on Tuesday that he may not be back with the team next season, writes Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times.  As Pincus points out, what happens with Dwight Howard in the offseason will go a long way to determining Gasol's fate in Los Angeles.  If the Lakers re-sign Howard, speculation that Gasol will be traded or amnestied is sure to accelerate.  Gasol did express his desire to remain a Laker.  
  • One Laker who seems to want both Gasol and Howard back is injured guard Kobe Bryant, writes Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News.  Bryant's torn Achilles has him unsure of his own NBA longevity, but in the short term he plans to help sell Howard on the Lakers as well as continuing to lobby for the retention of Gasol.  Bryant said, “I want Pau here.  It’s not a question or discussion.  He gives us the best chance to win titles."
  • Howard was continuously asked about his offseason plans after his exit interview, writes's Mike Trudell.  Howard didn't hint one way or another, per Trudell, but did say that he needs to "clear his head" to think.  He also expressed relief that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he wouldn't pressure him into making a decision. 
  • Kupchak reiterated as much during his media session on Tuesday, adding that he is "hopeful" and "optimistic" that the Lakers will  be able to re-sign Howard, writes Medina.  Kupchak said that because of how the Lakers lost, "everything is in play" when it comes to improving the team, which includes bringing back Howard and Gasol.  The Lakers GM insinuated that Howard's decision won't affect Gasol's future in Los Angeles more than that of any other of the current Lakers. 
  • Finally, Kupchak maintained that Mike D'Antoni will be back and dodged a question about the state of the Lakers amnesty provision.  Medina writes that of the possible candidates – Bryant, Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake – only Gasol and World Peace seem to make sense as amnesty candidates.  World Peace has a $7.7MM player option to consider.  Kupchak said he has "no idea" if he plans to exercise it. 
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