Gasol: Trade talk interrupts Lion King

Updated: January 8, 2014, 8:36 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

DALLAS -- Pau Gasol slept just fine the past few weeks as he heard his name floated in trade discussions for the umpteenth time, this time in connection with former teammate Andrew Bynum, whom the Cleveland Cavaliers were dangling around the league as salary-cap relief.

It was his social life that suffered. The four-time All-Star from Spain said he was at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood watching "The Lion King" on Saturday night when erroneous reports came out via Twitter that the Lakers had agreed to trade him.

"I checked my Twitter at intermission and I see that it's almost official," Gasol said Tuesday after the Lakers' 110-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. "I was getting all these messages, 'Farewell, Pau. Thanks for all your services,' all that stuff.

"It was a really good musical. I enjoyed it. I brought my parents and my little brother. It was a nice family time. But that kind of affected a little bit, the rest of the show."

Asked, jokingly, whether it stopped him from enjoying the musical's famous song "Hakuna Matata," which means "no worries" in Swahili, Gasol laughed and said, "Yeah, that would've been a good way to go. But that's how I approach things anyway, most of the time."

It's how he has been able to have three straight double-doubles since returning from an upper respiratory infection, as trade chatter swirled around him. And it's the attitude he plans to keep, as he expects to hear his name come up in trade discussions from now until February's trade deadline.

"I don't really know how it really played out. I don't know the reason it didn't happen," he said. "I know probably that there will be other rumors and potential trades coming up, but I can't really worry about it. I just need to continue what I've been doing, which is come in and be ready to play and focus on what I need to do as a player for myself and my teammates."

That's not easy of late. The Lakers (14-21) are woefully undermanned as they try to compete without the injured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry. Tuesday's loss was their eighth in nine games, and the road doesn't get much easier. The Lakers play old teammate Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night on the second night of a back-to-back. They have two games in Los Angeles (Friday against the Clippers and Tuesday against the Cavaliers) before leaving on an 11-day, seven-game trip.

"Are you trying to make me feel bad?" Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni joked when asked about the upcoming schedule. "Yeah, that's why they give me the room on the second floor because in case I jump all I'll break is an ankle."

Still, D'Antoni said he had reason for optimism.

"You just stay positive. It'd be different if they weren't trying. We're trying," he said. "We just don't have enough horses right now, and the season makes it tough."

For Gasol, it's a strange place to be in altogether. On the one hand, he's relieved he's still a Laker. On the other, he would like to be in a winning situation.

The Lakers are expected to continue searching for a trade that will net them assets of value in return for Gasol, who is in the final year of a contract that pays him $19.3 million this season.

"What do you do? You continue to work, you continue to compete, you continue to bring your best effort. That's what you do," Gasol said. "That's all you can do. Continue to prepare, and hopefully that will give us a chance to win games and get wins.

"We have a good group of guys. We care about each other. We want each other to do well as a group, so I won't let distractions and rumors and things like that take anything away from myself and my teammates."

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