Kobe Bryant wants Lakers management to decide on Pau Gasol trade
Kobe Bryant is tired of the Pau Gasol trade rumors that have circulated since the season began.
"I wish [Lakers] management would come out and either trade him or not trade him," Bryant said after the Lakers' 102-90 loss Sunday in Phoenix. "It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all but if they’re going to do something, I wish they would just ... do it."
Bryant sympathized with Gasol, sprinkling in some expletives while talking about his situation.
"If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it," Bryant said. "This way, he can be comfortable and go out and can perform and play and he can invest all of himself into the game. You can't have one of our pillars not knowing if he's going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something."
Gasol had 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists Sunday but his stats this season are down almost across the board. He is averaging 16.6 points, more than two below his career average, and shooting 49.6%, notably below his career mark of 52.1%.
Two months ago, Gasol was ticketed for Houston in the three-way trade that would have sent Lamar Odom to New Orleans and brought Chris Paul to the Lakers before the deal was struck down by the NBA.
Gasol is much more likely to be traded by the Lakers than Andrew Bynum or Bryant, who has the only no-trade clause in the NBA. Gasol has two more seasons on his contract after this for a total of $38.2 million. The trade deadline is March 15.
"He's been the consummate professional," Bryant said. "He's going out and he's trying to do what he can. But let's be real. If you didn't know you were going to be here tomorrow, if your head's on the chopping block ... it's tough to put all of yourself into the game."
Gasol deserved security or clarity, Bryant said.
"I just think it would help him out a lot," Bryant said. "Help us out a lot."
Gasol and Bryant formed a solid one-two punch as the Lakers won championships in 2009 and 2010. They are stuck in the middle of the playoff-contending pack in the Western Conference this season, sitting in fifth place with an 18-13 record.
"It is a situation that we're going through, I'm going through. It's been that way this year from before training camp," Gasol said. "Obviously it's not the best-case scenario for anybody. It's always nice to have security and reassurance but I understand it can't be that way all the time. It would be nice to know one way or the other for my mind's sake but I don't know if I'm in a position to demand that at all."
Gasol, 31, was acquired by the Lakers from Memphis in February 2008.
"I'm not trying to force things," Gasol said. "I'm not trying to force the team if they want to trade me, to trade me tomorrow because obviously I still believe in our team. I believe in our city and I believe that we can continue to be a special team and a successful team."
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant catches is breath during the game Sunday in Phoenix. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images