- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Pau Gasol will be wearing a yellow uniform when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, but what will be on everyone's mind come tipoff is just how close the Lakers' forward came to wearing Rockets red this season.
On the eve of the opening day of training camp last month, Gasol was part of a three-way trade between the Lakers, Rockets and New Orleans Hornets that was vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern. Gasol and Lamar Odom would have been traded to New Orleans for Chris Paul. Then Gasol would have been moved to Houston for Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a future draft pick.
"Maybe. Maybe (I'll have) one or two (thoughts about it), but once I get into the game I'm too focused right now to try to help the team win," Gasol said when asked if going up against the Rockets will conjure up any memories about the failed trade. "No matter who we're facing, it's a game that we want to win and we want to continue to especially win our home games and then go on the road and do a better job."
While Odom could not get over the fact the Lakers had dangled him in a deal and demanded another trade be put together to ship him out of town, Gasol has put the trade behind him and continued to produce, averaging 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on 55.4 percent shooting through the Lakers' first six games.
"He's here and I don't really think about it," Lakers coach Mike Brown said of the nixed deal.
Gasol's early numbers have been even better when compared to his averages of 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on just 42.0 percent shooting during last season's playoffs when the Lakers were unceremoniously swept out of the second round by the Mavericks.
"Pau's playing great," Brown said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with the way he's playing. He's still finding his way just like the rest of us are finding our way. He's scored the ball well for us, he's rebounded the ball fairly well for us and he's done a nice job facilitating. The offense is what it is because we have the two, 7-foot skilled players. So, I don't have any problems with the way he's playing and I'm glad to be coaching him."
The other 7-footer Brown was referring to, Andrew Bynum, knows a thing or two about what it feels like to hear his name in trade scenarios yet continue to perform. Bynum has been linked to trades for Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony in recent seasons.
"I think he's done well with it," Bynum said. "He understands it's a business and everybody is up for grabs at any time. It's nothing personal. I can't imagine it'd be personal. It makes no sense. We got two titles, (and went) three times to the Finals, so I just think you never know where you're going to be when you wake up in the morning. All you can do is play well and make sure your team needs you."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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