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Pau Gasol brushes off trade rumors

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It didn't take long for Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol to find himself back in the eye of the storm.

After finishing last season in disappointing fashion and taking the brunt of the blame for the Lakers' shocking second-round sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in May, Gasol was barely back in L.A. for a week before he found his name in the headlines again.

"There's a lot of speculation," said Gasol, speaking at the Lakers practice facility on Wednesday.
"There's a lot of rumors going around and that's understandable, I guess, to an extent. It creates attraction. It's good for the fans, I guess, to have this kind of attention and good for the NBA, I guess, also too. As long as nothing happens to me, we have the guys that we have and we're completely fine with that and we'll go to war with the team that we end up having, no matter who is [here]."

Despite being linked to several trade scenarios by ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard that could involve Gasol being traded to either Orlando to acquire Dwight Howard or New Orleans to acquire Chris Paul, the 10-year veteran displayed his usual calm demeanor when asked about the possibility of being traded.

"You can't control that, really, you can't really avoid it," Gasol said. "So, you're going to 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. It happened also at the end of the year, at the end of the season. So, I look forward to get back on the floor. Play hard. Play my best and I'm sure after that my name won't be brought up too much."

Gasol spent most of the summer abroad, practicing with his old club team FC Barcelona and playing with the Spanish national team that went on to win the gold at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania. He said he is in shape and ready for training camp to begin, which will be more important this year than most because the Lakers open up with a back-to-back-to-back and Gasol will be down on the blocks without Andrew Bynum, who is suspended for the first five games of the year.

"I know it's going to be a demanding season," Gasol said. "Checking out the schedule [Tuesday], it's going to be very, very challenging so we all have to be ready mentally and physically if we want to be successful.

"It's a tough way to start, but it's going to set the tone. It's just going to get lighter after that because we're not going to keep playing back-to-back-to-backs all year long. So, it will be a good test for us to see how we're able to start and how the team is going to do from the get-go."

Before the Lakers can begin playing their compressed 66-game schedule, the new collective bargaining agreement must be ratified.

"I still haven't seen the proposal," Gasol said. "I still don't know what's on it. We're supposed to get that [Wednesday] and [Thursday] is supposed to be the voting. ... Everybody just takes for granted that everything is cool and we move forward, which everybody wants, but it's funny how there isn't really any specific information about it."

Even though the league has left things until the last minute, Gasol had confidence that the new CBA will be approved and teams will be able to open up training camps Friday.

"I think at this point everybody is ready to move on and accept anything, not anything, but what's on the table," Gasol said.

When he finished speaking with reporters, Gasol said he planned to meet with new coach Mike Brown and his staff to go over the team's planned schemes on defense and offense.

While the lockout prevented Gasol from making contact with Brown, he did meet with former coach Phil Jackson on several occasions and expects to keep in contact with Jackson throughout the season.

"I'm sure [retirement] is hard because he's been doing a thing for so many years so successfully and so passionately and now I don't know if he's taking a break or if he's finally moving on and retiring for good," Gasol said.

The four-time All-Star has put the team's playoff failures behind him. While he didn't provide an explanation for his averages dipping from 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds on 52.9 percent shooting in the regular season to just 13.1 and 7.8 on 42 percent in the postseason, he vows to have benefited from the experience.

"It was a good opportunity to learn and keep growing as a player and as a person, so I took it as that," Gasol said. "... It was a rough time because things weren't clicking in different ways. So, you analyze all that. You analyze what happened during, before and after and you make your conclusions and try to learn from all that."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.