Kobe Bryant may have done his best to squash recent rumors of Pau Gasol's departure from the Los Angeles Lakers by stating at an Olympic media session on Saturday that the Spaniard will be with the team for as long as he is, according to a tweet from Brian Mahoney, NBA beat writer for The Associated Press.
Bryant was reportedly asked by a Spanish reporter about Gasol's status with the Lakers, to which he responded, "As long as I'm there, he's going to be there."
Though signings and trades are ultimately up to Lakers owner Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak, Bryant's endorsement will likely have an influence as they continue to discuss trade scenarios that would land them the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.
Gasol's name had been mentioned in trade rumors in June but Jim Buss, son of owner Jerry, told T.J. Simers of The Los Angeles Times that Gasol is off the trading block and that the only place he would move is closer to the basket next season.
Bryant and the U.S. Men's Olympic team will play their final exhibition game on July 24 against Pau Gasol and the Spanish team.