Pau Gasol discusses near-trade from Lakers

“It’s very different to be in a situation where you are not in the middle of the hurricane as far as rumors, where there’s a big chance of you not being part of the team you’ve been through so much with,” Gasol said in a quiet moment Sunday before the Lakers’ exhibition opener. “With all that now aside and the addition of great players, it makes it much more enjoyable.”

Gasol didn’t have fun last season. He was shoved outside the key more often than not to make way for Andrew Bynum’s less-fluid presence down low. It was great for Bynum, not so much for Gasol. His three-year run as an All-Star ended.

“We all know how competitive and how hard it is to make the All-Star team, but we weren’t doing great as a team,” Gasol said with a sigh. “Obviously, I like to make the All-Star team every single year because I like to consider I’m one of the best players in the league and the world.”

Even the Lakers seemed to sympathize last March. “This has been a really hard, hard period for Pau,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who was put in the awkward position of welcoming Gasol back after the Paul trade fell through. – Reported by Mike Bresnahan of theĀ Los Angeles Times