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Pau Gasol handles trade speculation differently than Lamar Odom

December 11, 2011 |  7:30 pm

The Lakers nearly removed his jersey, but Pau Gasol kept wearing it.

The Lakers nearly took his jersey, and Lamar Odom willingly returned it.

A strained right quadricep and perhaps mixed emotions kept Gasol away from practice temporarily. A bruised ego kept Odom away permanently.

Gasol immediately vowed he wanted to remain a Laker, so much that he arrived at the team's media day Sunday proclaiming himself one for an ESPN Radio promotional spot. Odom immediately vowed he wouldn't report to training camp, so much that he reportedly told General Manager Mitch Kupchak to trade him, something that became official once the Lakers sent him Saturday night to the Dallas Mavericks for a 2012 first-round draft pick and a $8.9 million trade execption.

"Different people are just different," Gasol said regarding how both he and Odom reacted to the Lakers trying to ship them in a deal that would've secured Hornets guard Chris Paul. "We react differently so we handle things differently." 

But only one handled it correctly.

On the practice court, Gasol impressed Coach Mike Brown enough to proclaim it didn't seem noticable he missed the first day of training camp. With teammates, they say he exuded enough confidence to suggest he remained unaffected. To the media, Gasol maintained a balance between acknowledging his disappointment and vowing to focus on basketball.

Don't call him a corporate shill. Gasol readily acknowledged he wished the Lakers didn't hang his playing future in the balance. But he maintained perspective. 

"I dont think this is personal at all," Gasol said. "It's a business move. The franchise is looking to do what's in the best interest of the franchise and team. For whatever reason. I just have to be professional." 

Too bad Odom wasn't. On the practice court, it may be understandable if Odom remained limited to avoid injury in a potential trade. But he avoided appearing altogether. With teammates, most say they couldn't reach him to lend support. To The Times' Broderick Turner, Odom continuously lamented his hurt feelings.

Don't call Odom egotistical and spoiled. Teammates rallied to his defense because he always remained both a great player and great person. The Lakers' decision to trade him also appears incredibly illogical. It remains unclear how they'll use the $17 million saved both in salary and luxury taxes, and the Lakers can hardly replace Odom's jack-of-all trades role. But Odom's inability to maintain perspective, particuarly when he's experienced more severe hardships in his life, only gave the Lakers an excuse to trade him partly because they think he'd keep a poisonous attitude. 

For better or worse, Gasol and Odom presented a contrasting case study on how to handle NBA business. 

"I respect the way he did what he did and handled his situatuon," Gasol said of Odom. "That was not the way I did it and the way I felt I should do it ... Unfortunately, Lamar is gone. He's a friend of mine and like a brother. It'll be hard not to have him around."

--Mark Medina

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