Pau Gasol’s Lakers contract extension becomes official Wednesday

If you’re reading this in the afternoon, it might already be official: The Lakers will announce today that Pau Gasol has signed a three-year contract extension.

The sides agreed to terms late last week, but Gasol had to return home with the team and pass a physical exam before signing an extension worth up to $64.7 million, depending on NBA salary-cap figures to be determined in 2011.

Gasol made the All-Star team last season and could do it again this season, averaging 17.1 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists a game before Tuesday.

He has helped turn the Lakers into championship contenders since his arrival from the Memphis Grizzlies in February 2008.

He is making $16.5 million this season and $17.8 million next season in what would have been the last year of his contract. He will be under contract through the 2013-14 season with the extension.

Reserve power?

The Lakers continue to get low wattage from their backups, a theme Coach Phil Jackson revisited with the team during Tuesday morning’s shoot-around.

“No doubt about the fact we have to work on that,” Jackson said later in the day. “That second unit knows it. When three or four of them get on the floor together, they’ve really got to work hard on what they’ve got to get accomplished. It’s not about scoring time.”

Lamar Odom, the leader of the second unit, continued to be irked by its underproduction, again pointing to a large lead that was trimmed in the fourth quarter Sunday night against Detroit.

“It just shows weakness in our team for the coach to have to put Kobe Bryant back in the game,” Odom said ruefully.

Getting closer

Luke Walton is still a few weeks from returning to game action, but he is expected to start shooting soon and practicing with the team in a couple of weeks.

Walton has been out a month since undergoing a procedure in which a nerve in his back was zapped to dim pain signals transmitted to the brain. He was averaging 3.7 points in 10.6 minutes a game.

Back at the microphone

Stu Lantz returned to his duties as the team’s TV color commentator after missing six games to help his wife, Linda, recover from foot surgery.

Lantz had missed only two games in his first 22 years of broadcasting, one for his mother’s funeral and the other for his daughter’s college graduation.

“It’s going to feel a little different,” Lantz said before Tuesday’s game. “I’m not used to that type of a vacation when the season is under way. Once the camera goes on, I’ll figure out what to do.”

Lantz was replaced by Rod Hundley for the games he missed.