Pau Gasol drawing energy from trade speculation
The uncertainty regarding his playing future lingers, and it's something Pau Gasol would like to end quickly.
He still wears a Lakers uniform. But he knows he could take it off any day now. Gasol's direct conversation with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak convinced Kupchak to plan to keep him on the roster. But with the team pursuing what Kupchak called "big deals," hardly anything seems guaranteed.
It remains clear, however, that ever since he found out the Lakers tried trading him last week in a deal that would've sent New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul to the Lakers, Gasol has properly channeled that negative energy on the practice court.
"The level of energy has been really good and positive throughout this first three days of training camp," Gasol said Monday at the Lakers' practice facility. "I don't know if the uncertainty has a lot to do with it."
But it does for him.
Said Gasol: "That helped me fight through it a little more."
This goes beyond Gasol maintaining a professional attitude and reiterating his desire to wear purple and gold. Despite his poor 2011 playoff showing, this has little to do with Gasol proving himself considering he largely helped the Lakers to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two championships. It has everything to do with finding an outlet to keep him temporarily distracted from all the uncertainty around him.
That outlet on the practice court just so happens to help Gasol's cause in convincing the Lakers to hold on to him, at least for now.
"Everybody has been walking on eggshells," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "They don't know if they're safe or not. Because of that, there's a lot of negative energy. Because of that, it's made our practices more spirited, more competitive and more energetic."
In Gasol's case, that included immediately giving the cosmetic impression to coaches and teammates that he remains unaffected by the trade uncertainty. On the court, it involves showing the conditioning he sharpened this offseason with Spain in the FIBA World Championships has remained so. And in the trainer's room, it involves healing an apparent strained right quadricep that he says has softened since injuring it last Sunday during voluntary workouts.
That injury sounds more like an excuse for the Lakers to hold him out of practice in case he gets traded. But partly because of Gasol's positive attitude and hard work in practice, the Lakers have held off. At least for now.
"It'll be nice to know what will happen just to have some peace of mind and certainty," said Gasol. "But I know that's hard to do. You control what you can control."
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