For months, it appeared Pau Gasol's time as a Laker might be coming to an end this offseason, but that sentiment could be changing if his recent comments are any indication.
Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News relays the latest from Gasol, who says he would consider staying in Los Angeles if a certain someone wants him to:
“Re-signing for the Lakers is a possibility, but I’m not sure whether to say it’s a remote one,” Gasol wrote Wednesday on his personal Web site. “If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another tournament and where I can be an important factor in the game.”
Gasol's assertion that he would stay for Kobe is certainly relevant, given that Bryant is signed to a massive, two-year contract. Other factors are in play, though. Medina went on to address Gasol's well-chronicled issues with Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, who has two years left on his contract but whose status with the team has been the subject of much speculation.
General manager Mitch Kupchak said the Lakers have "great interest" in re-signing Gasol, who averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds this season. Gasol made $19.2 million in the last year of his contract, a number he's unlikely to approach as a free agent in July. But several teams could outbid Los Angeles for Gasol, as well as offer him a better chance to win than the Lakers, who went 27-55. Bryant (who will make $23.5 million next season), Steve Nash ($9.7 million) and Robert Sacre ($915,243) are the only Lakers with fully guaranteed contracts for 2014-15.
Gasol also reiterated his philosophical differences with coach Mike D’Antoni. Gasol prefers to play a post-oriented offense at a methodical pace, while D’Antoni has wanted to feature Gasol more in pick-and-roll situations and as a facilitator in a faster-paced offense.
“I’ve never concealed the fact that D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game,” Gasol wrote. “Everybody knows this. I don’t know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”