Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Gasol: No contract extension talks yet
By Dave McMenamin
WASHINGTON -- Kobe Bryant got his contract extension on Monday. Is Pau Gasol, the guy who Kobe often refers to as a "brother" and who he paired with to win two championships, soon to follow?
"We have not had any discussions with Pau," Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday on a conference call with a small group of reporters. "I’m sure I will and where that leads I’m not sure right now. A lot has to do with different variables. I’m not saying that something won’t be considered and I’m not saying that something will be. I’m just saying that it’s not something that came up and it wouldn’t have come up before (Monday) anyway. There was no reason for anything to take place until we signed Kobe. So, we’ll kind of roll with that and see where it leads."
Gasol, 33, is averaging 14.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season, but shooting just 42.1 percent from the field. His play has been on an uptick of late, as he put up consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound games after dealing with foot discomfort and a respiratory issue for much of the early portion of the season.
The 13-year veteran said that he did not know if Bryant's deal means that the Lakers will also want to negotiate with him before the season ends.
"I try not to make that assumption," Gasol said after shootaround Tuesday in advance of the Lakers game against the Washington Wizards. "If I am, I will. If I’m not . . . I’m just focusing on trying to play as well as I can and finish the season as good as I can so I’m in the best position as possible for next year. That’s just my mindset about it."
Gasol said that he had not spoken to Bryant about the extension yet, noting that the Lakers' star guard was sitting behind him on the team plane when they took their cross-country flight Monday.
"I think he was soundly asleep," Gasol said. "I think he was peaceful . . . I’m sure he was happy."
Is Gasol happy about Bryant taking up $23.5 million of the expected $62.9 million salary cap for next season on his own? Will that leave anything for him to sign for?
"I don’t really think about that," Gasol said. "I thought it was a good extension for him. He’s the face of the Lakers, pretty much. So, I just think it caught a lot of people off guard unexpectedly without him being back playing and showing how well has he recovered from that injury. Other than that, it was a great extension for him.
"As far as me, or the team which is I’m most concerned about, how can you add other pieces around him and valuable pieces so we can win a title. But that’s the only concern. I’m not good with the mathematics and the numbers of the equation here, but that’s the only concern."
The Lakers also have Steve Nash's $9.7 million contract on the books for next season, as well as Robert Sacre's minimum deal worth less than $1 million. L.A. can waive Nash via the stretch provision if they choose and only have about $3.2 million of his salary count against the cap. Nick Young has a player option as well worth about $1.2 million.
Gasol, who is the seventh highest paid player in the league this season making more than $19 million, was asked if he'd be willing to take a pay cut to stick around with the Lakers.
"Generally speaking, I guess we all at some point have to make sacrifices," Gasol said. "But we’ll see. I don’t know what my situation is going to be or the team interest going forward. That hasn’t been expressed to me as much as I’m sure it has been expressed to (Bryant) and shown to him at this point. So, I’m just going to focus on continuing to play. I’m playing well as of late. I’m going to continue to try to extend my game and that’s what’s going to help me."
Despite his own lack of security moving forward, Gasol did make sure to celebrate Bryant's good news on his Twitter account Tuesday.
"Congratulations to my friend @KobeBryant on his extension with the Lakers! #LakerForLife," Gasol wrote.
He echoed similar sentiments to reporters.
"It’s a great extension," Gasol said. "It shows a lot of commitment to him and great faith and appreciation from the team. So, I’m happy for him."