Pau Gasol Relieved to be a Laker
How close was Pau Gasol to playing for the Houston Rockets?
Members of his inner circle bought airline tickets from LAX to IAH, resigned to Gasol’s stunning fate amid an alphabet soup of airport codes.
Gasol, though, never booked one. He hoped for a miracle reversal of the trade involving Chris Paul to the Lakers, and it came a day later when NBA Commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal.
It didn’t help Gasol’s mind-set that the same team that delivered a three-year, $57-million contract extension on the way to winning consecutive championships wanted to drop him for the dynamic New Orleans point guard in a three-team trade.
Is it any wonder that Gasol’s stat line last season showed a career-low scoring average (17.4 points) and his second-worst shooting percentage in 11 NBA seasons (50.1%)?
With Howard and Steve Nash on the payroll, so much less is expected of Gasol this season. He will have plenty of chances to cut toward the basket in the Princeton offense, not to mention post up whenever Howard flashes to the free-throw line for the entry pass from the guards that initiates the offense.
“Last year, there was a lot going on, but this year’s a new year,” Gasol said, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a smile.