Kobe Bryant has said it before and he reiterated it today – he wants Pau Gasol to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers. Pau Gasol trade rumors having been looming for a while now, and after a disappointing season it is only fair to assume that those rumors will flare up again this summer.
Next season will be the last year of Gasol’s $19M contract, and the Lakers organization will most likely look into what kind of trades are available this summer. The Lakers actually traded Gasol and Lamar Odom for Chris Paul before he landed with the Clippers, but the deal was interrupted by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
With Bryant probably out for a good portion of next season, Gasol’s presence alone likely won’t help the team too much. Still, no decision on Pau’s future with the team can possibly be made until Dwight Howard makes a decision of his own. If Howard decides to leave Hollywood, Gasol will inevitably stay with the Lakers and embrace his natural center position.
However, if Dwight re-signs with the team, there is no telling what the Lakers organization will decide to do with Gasol. The 7-footer is still very capable, even at the age of 32. For most of the season he looked washed up, but he finished the year strong and is still a high-caliber player.
Since Gasol earns a lot of money, it could be hard for the Lakers to find a feasible trade option that won’t require L.A. to take one or two bad contracts. If the Lakers do trade Gasol, Bryant will obviously not be happy. The two players have developed a great friendship and mutual respect through the years of playing together. Regardless of what Kobe says, Pau’s name will continue to circulate in all kinds of trade rumors. You can count on that.