Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant share a laugh after Bryant snagged a rebound to… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
The Lakers need the Utah Jazz to lose at least one game to have a chance of catching up in the standings; otherwise, the season could end on April 17.
Pau Gasol admitted that it's been a difficult year -- both for him personally and for the Lakers.
"The past [few] years have been difficult," Gasol said to Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on ESPN 710. "The lack sometimes of security and certainty do play a role, but again there's nothing I can do about it. I understand the situation of the team, of the personnel and why that happens."
Gasol has been involved in trade rumors because of the Lakers' massive luxury-tax bill, which could rise dramatically next year.
"Who knows what's going to happen after the season is over and what kind of moves there's going to be, if any?" the Lakers forward said. "I'm always going to stay positive, be the player that I am, be the person that I am. I'd love to continue to be a Laker and fight for championships here, but that's not totally up to me."
The Jazz host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday while the Lakers will see the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center. A Utah loss coupled with a win by the Lakers would move L.A. into eighth place.
"We can control only as much as what is in our hands," Gasol said. "We have to be fully focused on our task tonight against the Hornets and on the five games that we have left to play."
The Lakers are coming off a costly 109-95 defeat to the Clippers.
Gasol, who recently returned from a foot injury, has been a strong contributor in recent games.
"I'll try to be aggressive tonight as I move on to the end of the season and hopefully to the playoffs as well," he said. "As my body also feels better -- in better shape -- I think I'll be able to do that a little more."
Gasol acknowledged that Coach Mike D'Antoni has dealt with many injuries to players this year, but he didn't absolve the coach from some of the responsibility.
"There's no doubt that Mike and the team has had to face different challenges throughout the season. It hasn't been easy at all. That's part of why we are where we are," Gasol said. "Everything is kind of subjective."
Gasol said he hopes to stay with the Lakers but would like to feel that he's part of the team's future and not on the way out.
"I'm getting closer to the last few years of my career, and I want to have an enjoyable time and situation where I'm wanted, used properly and I can maximize my qualities and talents," he said.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.