Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol is in the last year of a Lakers contract paying him $19 million this season. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

WASHINGTON -- Since the Lakers already have their wallet open ... is Pau Gasol next?

"I try not to make that assumption," he said Tuesday. "I'm just focused on trying to play as well as I can and finish this season as good as I can so I'm in the best position as possible for next year."

Gasol, 33, hasn't had a great start in the last year of a contract paying him $19 million this season. His defense and his accuracy have been lacking.

He acknowledged in a roundabout way that he'd have to take a pay cut if he wanted to return to the Lakers next season.

"Generally speaking, I think we all at some point have to make sacrifices, but we'll see," Gasol said. "I don't know what my situation's going to be, or the team's interest moving forward."

"I'm playing well as of late. I'm going to try to continue to extend my game, and that's what's going to help me."

The Lakers gave Kobe Bryant a two-year, $48.5-million contract extension Monday, which made sense, Gasol said, because "he's the face of the Lakers."

So Bryant must have celebrated on the team's five-hour charter flight to Washington later in the day, right?

"I think he was soundly asleep," Gasol said. "I guess he was peaceful, and, I don't know, catching up on his sleep."

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