Lakers, Pau Gasol yet to talk about contract extension

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

In the wake of Kobe Bryant's extension, could the Spaniard be the odd man out in Los Angeles?

The Los Angeles Lakers and veteran big man Pau Gasol have yet to discuss terms on a contract extension, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

More outstanding Lakers coverage: Silver Screen and Roll

General manager Mitch Kupchak spoke on the matter after the team signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year extension on Monday via ESPNLosAngeles.com:

"We have not had any discussions with Pau. I'm sure I will and where that leads I'm not sure right now. A lot has to do with different variables. I'm not saying that something won't be considered and I'm not saying that something will be. I'm just saying that it's not something that came up and it wouldn't have come up before (Monday) anyway. There was no reason for anything to take place until we signed Kobe. So, we'll kind of roll with that and see where it leads."

The four-time All-Star is in the final year of his contract after spending six full seasons, with the team, including two NBA championships in 2009 and 2010.  Through 15 games in 2013-14, Gasol is averaging 14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting just 43 percent from the field.

His numbers this year are a marked improvement over his numbers last season, stats which included career worsts in points per game (13.7) and field goal percentage (42 percent). Part of the reason for his early season struggles have been injuries, namely a foot ailment and respiratory issue that have made it difficult for him to return to form.

There is a sense of irony in the scenario of Bryant's re-signing being a catalyst for Gasol's potential departure out of Laker-land. The two stars are extremely close, with Gasol referring to Bryant as his "brother" on more than one occasion and the pair sharing a lifetime's worth of memories on and off the floor with one another.

But the reality of the situation is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it difficult for stars to play with one another for an extended period of time.

Though Bryant took a pay cut with his latest contract, reportedly for two years and $48.5 million, the Lakers will need to keep their options open in order to sign a potential 2014 free agent like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony should one of those two choose to opt out of their current contracts with the Miami Heat and New York Knicks, respectively.

Though having either of the game's biggest stars join forces with Bryant is unlikely, it's important that the Lakers keep their leverage to bring them or another star player on. Given Gasol's likely market value and asking price, that may prove difficult given LA's financial constraints.

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