Jim Buss may have come out and said that the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t looking to trade Pau Gasol, but there’s one person who isn’t completely buying that – Pau Gasol.
Five years ago when he arrived in Tinseltown, Gasol got a hero’s welcome. The Lakers had been mired in mediocrity ever since Shaq’s departure, and the team, its fans and Kobe Bryant all realized that the only way to return to greatness was to bring in a quality post presence. In Gasol’s first three years with the squad, L.A. made it to three straight Finals – ultimately winning two of them.
Then things took a turn for the not-so-good. Gasol’s production and efficiency began to drop off noticeably for reasons nobody quite understood, and his disappearing act in back-to-back postseasons made him a frequent object of scorn for all the diehard fans that needed someone to blame. (We’re looking at you, Snoop.)
His postseason awfulness was particularly painful to watch this past year, when he averaged a career low 12.5 points on just over 43 percent shooting through two rounds of the playoffs.
Because L.A. had already come close to trading him once before, the natural presumption once this season wrapped was that Gasol was a goner.
The Lakers need to make changes, need to improve somehow – and salary cap limitations mean that a trade is the only realistic fix. Kobe will never be moved and Andrew Bynum is Jim Buss’ pet project, so the Big Spaniard seems to be the clear-cut odd man out.
Earlier this week, though, the heir apparent, Jim, came out in an interview with the L.A. Times and said that Gasol wouldn’t get traded. Via that report:
What are the Lakers starting the season with Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol all in Lakers uniforms?
"Very good," says Buss.
So you don't agree with those who say the Lakers must turn Gasol into two or three players via a trade?
"No," he says. "I think changes are going to be made moving Pau lower to the basket. We can improve that way with a change in coaching strategy rather than a change in personnel."
Well, there you go. Gasol is staying a Laker.
Buss’ most recent statements coupled with Kobe Bryant’s unwavering, constant public support of his place on the squad should have theoretically given Gasol all the confidence in world, right?
As it turns out, not so much.
Here is what he had to say in response to Buss’ comments on Marca.com (via Ernie Pomin)
Gasol told Marca.com that something Buss says in June is far from a guarantee from being traded (translated from Spanish).
"I'm happy about what Jim Buss said, but I don't think that's a guarantee [that I won't get traded]".
And that’s the sad reality Gasol is facing right now. He’s right, of course. Buss’ comments don’t mean a whole lot, especially since they came before the offseason even officially began. Nobody saw the botched Chris Paul trade coming, and it’s probably safe to say that nobody will see the next big-time Lakers deal coming either.
That’s just the way these things work.
(Kudos SB Nation)