No extension talks for Pau Gasol

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
3:52
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Ever since the Lakers tried to trade him to Houston in a three-team deal to acquire Chris Paul back in Dec. 2011, Pau Gasol has often felt like he's been on borrowed time in Los Angeles.

The trade rumors have swirled so much in the last couple of years that the four-time All-Star has taught himself to avoid fretting about the future and rather thrive in the present.

"I’ve learned to live my life on a daily basis and try to have fun in the process," Gasol said after the first of the Lakers two practices Sunday.

That doesn't mean the media thinks the same way.

On just the second day of training camp, Gasol, who is in the final year of his contract with L.A. set to pay him $19.3 million this season, was asked about the possibility of staying on with the Lakers after 2013-14.

"If the team is interested, they will approach me and at some point there will be some kind of meeting," Gasol said. "But I’m not sure when or how. I think it’s going to depend on how I perform during the season. The better I perform, I’m sure the more interested they will be to try to sign me, I guess."

Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 points last year, his 46.6 field goal percentage was the worst mark of his 12 seasons in the league, and his 8.6 rebounds per game was his lowest average since 2007-08.

However, things are already looking up for the former two-time champion. After saying he would not participate in the Lakers first practice of training camp Saturday, Gasol decided to give it a go.

"I did pretty much everything, just the last drill I was out of," said Gasol. "I went through the whole practice pretty successfully."

Gasol, who underwent a procedure known as the FAST technique (Focused Aspiration of Scar Tissue) in May to address the tendinosis in both of his knees, is still being somewhat cautious -- he sat out the first session of the Lakers' two-a-day Sunday -- but is committed to getting back on the court.

"It’s just a matter now of absorbing the load that I put myself through out there and going day by day," Gasol said.

Having Gasol in the mix has already been a boon for coach Mike D'Antoni. He said that Gasol picked up his offensive sets in "two seconds" and is excited about the versatility he will provide.

"In our system,” D’Antoni said, “Pau can play anywhere. He can play with (Chris) Kaman, he can play with Jordan (Hill), he can play with Shawne Williams. He can play with a stretch four or a big four. Whether he’s the four or the five doesn’t mean anything. Kaman can make the 15-foot shots, Pau can post up. Pau can make (the outside shots), Kaman can post up. So they’re a pretty good compliment."

The Lakers first preseason game is less than a week away, Oct. 5 against the Golden State Warriors in Ontario, Calif., and Gasol plans to be in the lineup for it.

"I would like to," Gasol said. "I’d like to play. I miss playing."

Gasol had his first summer off away from the game in years, sitting out of Spain's international competition as he rehabbed his knees. His teammate Steve Nash can see how the time off had an affect on Gasol.

"He looks excited and happy to be back and he looks re-energized so for me that’s huge because we know how good a player he is and if he’s mentally refreshed and free, the body will come," Nash said.

The fact that he wants to play in the preseason is a major turnaround from last year, when Gasol had to sit out of an exhibition game against the Utah Jazz because his body was already breaking down.

"I was already quite in pain," Gasol said. "I couldn’t really shake it off. It was something chronic that flared up and I couldn’t really get rid of it."

While it's still extremely early, Gasol's knees have already responded well to the first test he put them through.

"Not substantial," said when asked about any discomfort he felt two days into camp. "Not meaningful. So far, everything is how it was predicted."

Not that he spends too much time with predictions. Who knows how the rest of his time with the Lakers will play out.

"I don’t look at it as the last ride, but you never know," Gasol said. "So, that’s why you have to fully commit to the present, to the season and make the best out of it and see what comes out."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0