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Pau Gasol understands Kobe Bryant's rant against Lakers' front office

Gasol says he respects his teammate for speaking his mind and says Bryant is trying 'to make sure everybody's doing the best they can for him to be in a position to be able to win.'

March 13, 2014|By Mike Bresnahan

OKLAHOMA CITY — Pau Gasol heard about Kobe Bryant's front-office rant. He understood it.

"I respect a guy that speaks his mind and I respect a guy that wants to win," Gasol told The Times on Friday. "And that's what Kobe's trying to do, to make sure everybody's doing the best they can for him to be in a position to be able to win."

A day earlier, Bryant challenged Lakers upper management to bury any differences, singling out team executives and siblings Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss. Bryant, 35, also said the front office needed to act aggressively this summer because he had "not one lick" of patience.

The problem, though, is the quickly diminishing chance of a big-name free-agent class in July. Neither LeBron James nor Carmelo Anthony has indicated he will opt out of his contract, possibly leaving players such as Luol Deng and Kyle Lowry, solid but not franchise-changing types.

The Lakers are intrigued by Deng but fearful he will command an inflated salary from another team. They are not interested in Lowry, a point guard who has historically put up good numbers for only so-so teams.

Jordan Farmar, who won championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, saw what Bryant was trying to do.

"He doesn't have many years left at this and he doesn't want to see one or two or however many [years] it's going to take just wasted and conceded from the jump," Farmar said. "Whether we're winning or not, he wants to know we shot the bullets we had in the gun to try to make it happen."

Nash done

The look on Coach Mike D'Antoni's face said it all. Steve Nash was done for the season.

"He's not going to play," D'Antoni said glumly. "It doesn't make any sense for him to come back for 15 games, whatever."

Nash averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 assists in 10 games while being bothered by persistent nerve damage in his back.

"I want to play, but I understand the situation," he said. "More than anything, they need to evaluate guys for next year. To be honest, it's probably not the best thing if I'm in and out of the lineup and everyone's got to deal with that."

The key question is what to do with Nash during the off-season. He has one more season and $9.7 million on his contract. The Lakers have until Sept. 1 to waive him via the "stretch" provision, spreading out his salary over three seasons.

Or they can bring him back next season and hope for the best, a scenario that makes sense if the Lakers strike out in free agency.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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