Los Angeles Lakers: third option

Pau Gasol exit interview: A tough season that feels like goodbye

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
7:46
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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This was no easy season for Pau Gasol, between the weight carried from a poor 2011 postseason, being traded/untraded for Chris Paul, hearing his name swirl around the rumor mill like a Hollywood Starlet in the pages of US Weekly, and a new role that didn't play to his strengths in a compressed season that offered little time to practice out the kinks. His streak of three consecutive All-Star bids came to an end, replaced instead by a streak of public comments from Kobe Bryant cajoling him to be more aggressive.

Beyond receiving the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, Gasol's reasons to smile were limited this season. And the rediscovery of a toothy grin may come while donning a different uniform. Even before Mitch Kupchak acknowledged later in the afternoon a shakeup could be coming, Gasol's demeanor and body language wasn't that of someone banking on a return next season. He was the odd man out of this year's system -- and a pricey one at that -- which could lead to being out altogether. For the time being, however, he remains in his customary state: Limbo.

"I wish I could have clarification, but they can't give it to me right now," said Gasol. "I think management still has talk to ownership to see what direction this thing will be going next year... If they knew it would be good to know obviously, but I understand. We just finished playing two days ago, things don't work that easily. I wont really worry too much about it. It's something I've been through already this year, so if something does happen, it does and if it doesn't I'll be happy to be back next training camp ready to go, and Hopefully have much more peaceful year, and just focus on our goal, which will be to try to win another championship."

Besides, as Gasol noted, he, Mike Brown and Mitch Kupchak didn't spend nearly as much time talking about the future as the recent past. The pow wow lasted about an hour, which is very long by exit interview meeting standards. But considering the chaos of Pau's season, it's not surprising extra time would be required to hash out matters. Unlike the airing of grievances that accompany Festivus, Pau didn't present the sitdown as heated or hostile. His recounting of events came with the typical Gasol-ian politeness. But it's clear he got some things off his chest.

"I told them it was hard for me at times," shared Gasol. "I never had to search for offense or for looks in teams I've been on. They've always been, not given to me, but I always had them because of what I bring to table. So to have to go and search, I have struggled at points, at times with that. But obviously when you have certain players are also very good contributors on the offensive end, you have to make sure combine all those weapons, make them work at their best. And that takes a little bit of time, too.

"I always like to be aggressive and proactive, but I was still trying to adjust to the fact it was different. I wasn't getting the same things I was getting before. I'm not used to attacking from different positions on the court. Analyzing a little more made me think of it a little more. But I don't like excuses at all. It's just analyzing and seeing the fact and understanding why things happen a certain way."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 4.9 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.4
AssistsK. Bryant 4.9
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.1