With Kobe Bryant signing a two-year extension on Monday, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stated on Tuesday that the team has yet to initiate any conversation regarding an extension with Pau Gasol, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
We have not had any discussions with Pau,” Kupchak said Tuesday during a conference call with a small group of reporters. “I’m sure I will and where that leads I’m not sure right now. A lot has to do with different variables. I’m not saying that something won’t be considered and I’m not saying that something will be. I’m just saying that it’s not something that came up and it wouldn’t have come up before (Monday) anyway. There was no reason for anything to take place until we signed Kobe. So, we’ll kind of roll with that and see where it leads.”
If the Lakers’ management were indeed to hold discussions with Gasol about an extension it will likely be for a deal that would have a substantial pay cut as the team is still trying to preserve their salary cap space for next offseason’s free agent class that will likely feature LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph, and Greg Monroe.
With that said, Gasol’s mindset is focused on the task on hand by trying to win as many games as possible until Bryant returns.
Generally speaking, I guess we all at some point have to make sacrifices,” Gasol said. “But we’ll see. I don’t know what my situation is going to be or the team interest going forward. That hasn’t been expressed to me as much as I’m sure it has been expressed to (Bryant) and shown to him at this point. So, I’m just going to focus on continuing to play. I’m playing well as of late. I’m going to continue to try to extend my game and that’s what’s going to help me.”
As for his reaction to his teammate’s extension, Gasol was happy for him but voiced his concern over the Lakers’ chances of adding other pieces to the team next summer with Bryant’s sizable contract in place.
“I don’t really think about that,” Gasol said. “I thought it was a good extension for him. He’s the face of the Lakers, pretty much. So, I just think it caught a lot of people off guard unexpectedly without him being back playing and showing how well has he recovered from that injury. Other than that, it was a great extension for him.
“As far as me, or the team which is I’m most concerned about, how can you add other pieces around him and valuable pieces so we can win a title. But that’s the only concern. I’m not good with the mathematics and the numbers of the equation here, but that’s the only concern.”
The 33-year-old this season has had his fair share of struggles as he is averaging career-lows in points (14.3), field goal percentage (.421) and minutes (30.3) per game. In addition to his poor play in the early portion of the year, he has dealt with respiratory issues and a strained muscle in his left foot.
But in the past two games before Tuesday’s loss to the Washington Wizards, he has appeared to finally get past his offensively woes as he had two consecutive 20-point and 10-rebound efforts while shooting over 50-percent from the field.
As Gasol’s health continues to improve, so will his offensive output. And with those both happening, any discussion concerning an extension will be a much easier process to conduct with both the team and the 13-year veteran playing better.
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