Pau Gasol's future with the Lakers is closely intertwined with free agent-to-be Dwight Howard. (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
As it remains questionable that the Los Angeles Lakers will be able to keep both big men Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, Gasol's future sits in limbo while the soon-to-be free agent Howard makes his decision.
And given that Howard has signaled that the process won't be quick, Gasol is preparing for a long summer of waiting.
“Dwight is looking at his options, and there’s nothing wrong with that, I guess,” Gasol told USA Today's Sam Amick. “I’m not him. I’m not in his position, but I guess it all starts with his decision and I’m sure the franchise is waiting to see whether he decides to sign (with the Lakers) or sign with somebody else, I guess. [...]
“Obviously from the team’s standpoint, the sooner Dwight makes his decision the better. And as players and teammates too [it’s better], because in a way I don’t know — there’s certain things that depend on his decision, right? Probably. I don’t know what percentage, or to what extent, but to some extent yes.”
If Howard leaves the Lakers as a free agent, it will likely mean that the team would keep Gasol. If Howard stays, the team's decision process with Gasol becomes more complicated.
They could look to trade Gasol, or they could waive him based on the league's amnesty clause in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Either way, according to Amick, if the Lakers re-sign Howard to what surely will be a maximum contract, they would have a payroll of about $100 million and would be set to pay $72.8 million in luxury taxes.