LONDON – If the good times keep on rolling like this, Pau Gasol isn’t going to want to see this summer end.
On the same day Gasol led Spain from 13 points down to a win over Russia in the first of two semifinals here at the Olympics, he found out that the Lakers put the finishing touches on a blockbuster deal that will pair he and All-Star center Dwight Howard in a revamped frontcourt that will be the envy of the NBA. Add all that to the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal from last month and the realization that Gasol’s name will no longer come up in trade rumors (it ended up being Andrew Bynum) and things couldn’t get much better.
Well, there is always that game Sunday and a potential matchup against his good friend and teammate Kobe Bryant and the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team, and those other two high-profile teammates back in the States watching all of the action unfold.
It’s a decent rebound summer for a guy whose name had come up in so many trade rumors over the past two years that it made it hard not to internalize all of the chatter. Instead of heading elsewhere, Gasol will be a central figure on a Lakers team that vaults into the mix with Miami and Oklahoma City as favorites to win the 2012-13 NBA title.
Most importantly, Gasol will stay put in Los Angeles for at least the foreseeable future.
“That’s big news, big news.” Gasol said after Spain’s 67-59 win over Russia. “That’s huge. I’ve been involved in so many talks and so many rumors, we all know that. After a while I’ve been able to block it out. So I feel relieved. And I’m anxious and excited with our team, fully committed and fully focused on working extremely hard and just our team as much as I can.”
Gasol said he talked to Bryant Thursday night after all of the rumors about the deal started circulating. Initially, Gasol wasn’t sure of the particulars and whether or not he was going to be included in the deal as well.
“Kobe knew more than I did,” Gasol said. “I think we’re both happy with what’s gone on and where we are now.”
The timing, of course, couldn’t have been worse. With Spanish dignitaries sitting courtside for the game against Russia, Gasol admitted that his mind was all over the place with so much going on with his national team and his NBA team at the same time.
“Listen, first of all I want to wish Andrew the best in his new team and new stage,” Gasol said. “And I’m obviously very excited about our team. But it was hard to block it out completely, because I like to be concentrated and focused on what I’m doing with my national team. This happened and it’s something that puts us in a position to be an extremely powerful team. A team with all the chances to go for the ring again.”