Pau Gasol is the subject of much of the Los Angeles Lakers recent news, but not in a good way. Fans are criticizing their owner, Jerry Buss for his lack of communication between the players.
When a hall of famer in Magic Johnson strongly expresses his feelings about the subject, one must know something is not right about this situation.
The Lakers held a players only meeting earlier this week to clear up this situation, and my guess is that one of the veterans informed the rest of the squad to play for each other. This is not a knock on new head coach, Mike Brown, but more towards Buss and Kupchak.
Kobe Bryant came out with a statement earlier this week after a loss to the Suns. “Basketball is such an emotional game, you got to be able to have all of yourself in the game and invested in the game. We didn’t have that,” Bryant said after Gasol had 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Suns. “Pau, it’s hard for Pau because of all this trade talk and all this other stuff, it’s hard for him to kind of invest himself completely or immerse himself completely into games when he is hearing trade talk every other day. I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him.”
Bryant is 100 percent correct. The Lakers general manager, Mitch Kupchak, had this to say on Kobe’s comments, “As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player,” said Kupchak, a former Lakers center.
“Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come,” Kupchak said. “To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans.”
Gasol, on the other hand, has to block out these rumors and keep playing at an elite level. Some players would just dog it and demand a trade, but Gasol is still playing as this news isn’t even surrounding him. He had this to say on the topic, “There’s a lot of speculation,” said Gasol, speaking at the Lakers practice facility on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of rumors going around and that’s understandable, I guess, to an extent. It creates attraction. It’s good for the fans, I guess, to have this kind of attention and good for the NBA, I guess, also too. As long as nothing happens to me, we have the guys that we have and we’re completely fine with that and we’ll go to war with the team that we end up having, no matter who is [here].”
Gasol is going about this situation as about as professionally as anyone. He has not had a break from the media questioning him about this situation, but has yet to say anything that would offend anyone involved.
For the Lakers to contend in the Western Conference, they will need Gasol. There is not a player available that the Lakers could trade for that would be better or even the same as Gasol.