Spaniard linked with move ahead of trade deadline.
Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol has insisted that it is his “preference” to stay with the franchise despite trade speculation linking him with an exit.
The 33-year-old has struggled with injuries this season while he also made headlines earlier this year after criticising coach Mike D’Antoni for how he was being used offensively.
As a result, the trade rumors continued to surround him for a third straight season, although a groin injury has dampened talk of a move coming to fruition ahead of the trade deadline on February 20.
Nevertheless, with his current contract situation meaning he will likely test free agency in the summer, Gasol has insisted that he would prefer to remain in Los Angeles.
“My preference would be to stay,” Gasol said Thursday, as reported by the Los Angeles Times..
“That’s what I’ve been saying all year, though the circumstances are difficult right now for our team and nobody’s too happy. But it’s still my team and I still want to be here.”
Gasol revealed that he still feels wanted by the franchise given that they have perhaps pulled the plug on opportunities previously, and he believes that their current situation as a team makes his personal situation more difficult.
The Phoenix Suns were said to have broken off talks last week after they believed that the Lakers were asking for too much in return, but Gasol remains ready if a deal presents itself ahead of Thursday.
The Lakers center said it was a “possibility” that he would play against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, although he reportedly met with his doctor on Thursday to get an update on his progress having missed the last six games.
Gasol admitted that once he gets clearance to return he will begin practice, but it remains to be seen how long he remains a Laker.