As I wrote last week, Pau Gasol is staring down his version of "Groundhog Day" this season. Once again, a playoff disappointment ended poorly for Pau (and in turn, the Lakers), which leaves El Spaniard once again in the position of having to reestablish his credentials as one of the league's premiere big men. No dummy, Pau is well aware of this predicament. As he admitted to Brian this summer, the doubters get old. But based on his conversation with us media types Wednesday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo, he's able to take this situation with a grain of salt.
The topics covered by Pau ranged from the uncertainty experienced during the lockout, his offseason European championship with the Spanish National team and his offseason conversations with Phil Jackson. He also addressed the "Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul to L.A." rumors, scenarios that could send him to either Orlando or New Orleans. Clearly, the roster overhaul conversations were expected by El Spaniard, even if he contends Lakers can absolutely win a championship as is.
"Well, there's a lot of speculations, there's a lot of rumors going around," shrugged Gasol. "And that's understandable, I guess, to an extent. And it creates attraction. It's good for the fans to have this kind of attention. it's good for the NBA, I guess, also, too. So as long as nothing happens, to me, we have the guys we have. And we're completely fine with that. We'll go to war with the team that we end up having, no matter who's up."
As for being linked to these deals, Gasol knows that's part of the deal in the NBA. "Well, you can't control that, really," said Gasol of his inclusion. "You can't really avoid it. So you're gonna hear your name every now and then here and there. And again, after the way the season ended last year, it's kind of expected."
More importantly, he also understands the recipe for removing himself from the gossip circuit.
"I look forward to getting back on the floor, play hard, play my best. And I'm sure after that, my name won't be brought up."
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The Lakers kick off their compressed season with three consecutive games, all without the services of a suspended Andrew Bynum. Gasol admits this won't be easy, but also likes the idea of the grind setting an immediate tone.
I asked Pau what he took away from the team-wide and personal collapse during the playoffs. His response was predictably introspective:
"Again, it was a rough time, because things weren't clicking in different ways. So you take it and you analyze all that. You analyze what happened during, before and after. You take your conclusions and try to learn from all that. So you're ready for that and you hopefully, at least from your individual point of view, you're able to perform at a different level."