Pau Gasol insists trade speculation doesn't affect him
Sauntering over toward a small group of reporters, Lakers forward Pau Gasol flashed a smile, extended his hands to greet everyone and enthusiastically addressed the 2011-12 season.
It was a much different scene than during the 2011 NBA playoffs, when Gasol appeared frustrated and overwhelmed with his disappointing performances and the scrutiny surrounding it. It remains to be seen whether that's all in the past, considering Gasol is the subject of possible trade rumors involving Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. But should he remain on the Lakers, it's crucial that he carry the right perspective surrounding his playoff performance, when he averaged 13.1 points on 42.9% shooting and became a huge reason for the Lakers' early elimination.
One approach involves believing, or at least acting like, the trade speculation doesn't affect him.
"You can't control that or really avoid it," said Gasol Wednesday at the Lakers' practice facility. "You will hear your name every now and then, here and there. After the way the season ended last year, it's kind of expected. It also happened at the end of the season. But I'm looking forward to getting back on the floor and to play hard, play my best and I'm sure after that my name won't be brought up."
To do that, Gasol will need to draw motivation from last year's showing the right way. He maintained he kept in high spirits during the off-season, helping the Spanish national team win the FIBA World Championships and practicing with club team FC Barcelona. He's also surely aware that before his poor playoff showing, he proved to be a large part in the Lakers' three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two championships. But he also needs to keep those disappointing moments fresh in his mind to make sure they don't happen again.
"It wasn't difficult," Gasol said. "Everything happens for a reason. It was a good opportunity to learn as a player and a person. I took it as that. It was a good off-season."
That involved sharpening his conditioning so that he's prepared for playing heavier minutes during Andrew Bynum's five-game absence to start the season. It involved talking with former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and ensuring his relationship stayed strong, despite their frustration boiling over during the postseason. It involved his plans to talk with Coach Mike Brown at the Lakers' facility Wednesday about how he'd fit into the new offense that centers on post touches through pick-and-rolls.
To do that successfully, Gasol will have to put the past behind him, while still drawing motivation from it.
"It was a rough time," Gasol said of the 2011 playoffs. "Things weren't clicking in different ways. You analyze all that before, during and after. You take your conclusions and try to learn from that."
-- Mark Medina
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