Pau Gasol appeared in 49 games (the fewest of his 12-year career), starting 42 towards averages of 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Gasol battled injuries the entire year, missing eight games because of tendinitis in both knees, five games due to a concussion and 20 more after suffering a torn plantar fascia at Brooklyn on Feb. 5.
In four postseason games, Gasol averaged 14.0 points, 11.5 boards and 6.3 assists. He recorded his triple-double of the season in Game 3, the other two coming in the final week of the regular season.
Below is a summary of his exit interview:
- On if he’ll be back to the Lakers: “I understand he position I find myself in. It can be a little draining. It’s not ideal. But I also accept it. I accept where I am. I accept the circumstances the team is in. I’m not upset about it. It’s just the way it is. The future is uncertain. There’s a possibility I could be gone. There’s a possibility I could stay. But I’m prepared either way. I understand the challenges the franchise is facing and the decision they have to make in order to keep the team in the direction they want looking at the present and the future. It’s a lot going on. I wish things were simpler, but they’re not. I appreciate Mitch (Kupchak’s) honesty and everything that he’s done and the franchise has done to keep me here, and have me on the team. There’s been two difficult years for different reasons, but we fought through it.”
- On the standing ovation he received when he was subbed out of Game 4, and what it meant to him, with Kobe coming over to console him: “At first I was upset because of the score, and I recognized it was our last game of the season … and then the emotional part kicked in. I saw and perceived the recognition from our fans, which is something I highly appreciate and am thankful for.”
- On his relationship with Kobe: “It’s grown and gotten stronger. We’ve gotten closer as friends and teammates. I’m happy and proud that we’ve grown so much as friends, and it’s been great. We communicate with each other a lot more now than we ever have. We’re on the same page, and I have great respect for who he is, what he brings to the table, what he brings to the franchise and to a lot of people.”
- On his role changing as the year went on: “We finished the year a lot happier of how I was placed on the court, and how I was used. My productivity shows that. (Mike D’Antoni and I) agreed that we all took our time to know each other and figure each other out, and figure out how to utilize the personnel to play the (best way). Nothing to regret from that part, but as any player would, I’d like to be used the right way so I can maximize what I bring to the table.”
- On his health, after what was the most challenging season of his career from that standpoint: “My knees have been an issue this year from beginning to end, and then I had to deal with my (torn plantar fascia) to come back as soon as I could. The soreness increased as I was playing more on it (when I returned). I’m going to go through several medical tests in the next several days to see the status in my knees and the arch, and then decide what kind of procedure if any or treatment I need to go through to get healthy. Hopefully next season I’ll come back at full strength.”
- We learned that Gasol has been working on a book – some photographic, some written – to express himself from a personal standpoint.
- Gasol thinks his unselfish nature as a passer and playmaker means that the team is best off when going through him, which he’s proven to be true in the past. Yet the Lakers have been in such a unique situation, with Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum – two of the only other bigs in the league that would take some time from him on the block – on the roster. This season, Gasol’s injuries limited his effectiveness at times on the defensive end in particular, as he wasn’t always able to protect the rim like he has when healthy.
- He described how things were difficult, but got better, with what the team wanted to do: “In the beginning, we struggled more because everybody wanted to assert themselves and establish themselves. Things didn’t work out that well from the beginning. The coaching change had a big role into it, but we progressed as the season went on and put our individual desires aside and found what worked. We finished the season playing the right way as far as a balance.” Gasol said Kobe was willing to facilitate and distribute, and get players involved. He also stated he was able to be utilized at the post more on offense and create for others.
- Gasol was asked how he’s maintained a positive state of mind through what have been two whirlwind seasons full of trade rumors, health issues and more losing than expected: “I have a positive mind. I try to put myself in the position of others and understand where they come from. If I saw something malicious or saw something of bad intention, then I might say something. But I understand everybody’s position here. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of expectations, a lot of coverage and a lot of fans please. I’ve been extremely lucky to play for this franchise for so long.”
- Here’s what Tim Duncan had to say about Gasol after the Round 1 series: “I don’t see how he’s changed much at all. He’s in a different system, and he’s asked to do different things. He’s as skilled as there are of big men out there. He can do just about everything, and he’s unselfish. I see him playing the way he’s been asked to play. I think if he’s asked to be more of a scorer, or be something else, he can do that as well. I don’t see why he doesn’t have many years left in him.”