Pau Gasol: Trade talk 'not been easy'
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Pau Gasol went through a full practice with the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, pushing aside the uneasiness of the unsettled state of the three-team trade between L.A., New Orleans and Houston to get in at least one last hurrah with his teammates with which he won two titles.
While teammate Lamar Odom, who is included in the trade speculation, spent the practice time undergoing his annual physical, Gasol decided to play.
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"This is what I love to do," said Gasol as his reason for practicing despite the unresolved trade. "I've been through so much here. Won two championships in three and a half seasons and I was looking forward to the opportunity to win another one, making another run. So, I mean I love practicing with my teammates."
He said he has not spoken to Odom about the trade, but said, "I'm sure it hasn't been easy at all for him either. He's been here longer than I have."
Gasol arrived in L.A. via trade in 2008. Odom has spent the last seven seasons with the Lakers.
"You try to make the city that you play in your home, but it's hard to do it because once you get established and comfortable and settled, anything can happen," Gasol said. "It's part of the business as we know, but when it happens to you it's always a little harder."
Gasol acknowledged the toll the uncertainty has taken on him after NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to L.A. for Gasol and Odom and then Gasol to Houston for Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a 2012 first-round pick.
"It's not been easy. It's not been easy," Gasol said. "Mentally and emotionally, it's a hard situation to deal with because, like every situation that is out of your control, even knowing that is still hard, right?
"Because you come in, you're excited for a new challenge, new season, new coaching staff [and] pretty much the same teammates and then obviously all these talks are on. It was very close for it to happen two days ago and it got stopped, for some reason. But, if the NBA wouldn't have stopped it, then I would be gone. I wouldn't be here today. So, it's tough to keep your balance.
"But, at the same time, I'm happy that it hasn't happened because my heart is here, my mind is here. I want to be here and that's the reality."
Gasol reported to Day 1 of training camp on Friday, but did not practice because of a strained right quadriceps and left before addressing the media.
"It was hard for me yesterday to sit down with my quad and [just be] watching," Gasol said. "Just watching and sitting. So, today I wanted to try and see if I was able to give it a go and I was able to finish practice with not too much soreness."
Martin and Scola were held out of practice Saturday while the trade was in flux, according to the Houston Chronicle.
By Gasol's understanding, the deal was trying to be reworked as of Saturday morning.
"I heard it was going on today again and everything was on the table again," Gasol said. "So, everything is possible again. I guess I have to be patient and whatever happens, hopefully it will happen quick so I can adjust to the idea of either idea. Whether it's staying here and preparing myself for a very challenging season full of goals and excitement or change of scenario [and] the whole thing."
The four-time All-Star tried to digest new coach Mike Brown's system, nonetheless.
"It's hard but I'm trying to be as professional as I can be, be as focused as I can," Gasol said. "I've always been a committed and respectful person and I'll continue to be. From what I know, I'm here and I'm paying attention to every detail that is going on out there. I had a lot of fun today being able to practice with my guys and hopefully I'll have a chance to do it again tomorrow."
Brown still has no idea which big men will suit up for him in two weeks when the Lakers host the Chicago Bulls in their Christmas season opener. The new coach has no choice but to proceed while Kupchak and the Lakers' brass attempt to land arguably the NBA's best point guard at the cost of decimating their enviable frontcourt depth and talent.
"His length and his skill set and all that stuff, it's hard to replace," Brown said of Gasol. "He's a very good player. I thought his mood was good. Obviously, going what he went through and what Lamar went through, it's a tough thing to deal with. So, you respect that and you give those guys space. You let them be."
Kobe Bryant has remained publicly neutral about the Lakers' decision, neither endorsing a potential deal for Paul nor expressing support for Gasol and Odom.
When asked if Gasol's presence was awkward Saturday, Kobe summed up the weekend with his typical brevity: "Nope."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.