Source: Lakers will keep Pau Gasol
Now that Howard is gone, there will be no talk or discussion about using the amnesty provision on forward Pau Gasol anymore, a source with knowledge of the team's thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com Friday night.
Gasol will likely slide over from power forward to center and be featured in that role, as he was on the 2009 Lakers team that defeated Howard and the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. It remains to be see who will fill the power forward role -- Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill or rookie Ryan Kelly -- but the Lakers feel Gasol is a much more natural fit as a center in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense than he was as a power forward.
More on the Lakers
For more news, notes and analysis of the Lakers, check out the Lakers Index. Blog
Had Howard re-signed with the Lakers, Gasol -- who will make $19.3 million in the final year of his contract -- was a candidate to be let go via the amnesty provision as the Lakers look to deal with their luxury tax issues. No firm decision had been made, the source insisted, as the team's preference was to look for ways to keep Gasol. But now that decision has been taken care of with Howard leaving.
It's an ironic twist because of the way Gasol and D'Antoni clashed during the season. D'Antoni benched Gasol in the fourth quarter of games within his first week on the job, then moved him into a sixth man role. Now though, he will play a key role in the system and his passing and playmaking ability will be featured.
The Lakers could still use their amnesty provision on Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake or World Peace, of course. And they will likely weigh using it on World Peace, but no decision has been made, according to the source.