Pau Gasol doesn't shut door on returning to Lakers next season

Pau Gasol will do one very important thing when July rolls around. He'll listen.

He won't make close to the $19.3 million he pulled down this season with the Lakers, but he'll be a popular guy when free agency begins.

“It's a great position to be in,” he said Sunday. “It's rare. The first time I will ever be in that position.”

It's no secret that he dislikes Coach Mike D'Antoni's offense. It's also no secret that the Lakers will eventually weigh whether D'Antoni returns for the final guaranteed year of his contract.

By the time Gasol's contract officially expires in a few months, he will know D'Antoni's fate. Maybe there's even a possibility of reuniting with the Lakers.

“I think there's chances,” he said carefully. “It depends what the conditions are going to be, and then I'll decide what's best. At this point in my career, I just have to be picky, put my personal feelings aside and look at the whole picture.”

Gasol had nine points and four rebounds two weeks ago in a 124-112 loss to Portland. It might have been his last game with the Lakers after joining the team in February 2008.

He received a warm ovation from the crowd when shown on the scoreboard during a fourth-quarter timeout in Sunday's 102-90 loss to Memphis. He was on the Lakers' bench, wearing a suit.

He stayed on the court for several minutes after the game, signing autographs as fans shouted for his attention in the lower bowl of Staples Center.

Gasol, 33, has missed 10 games because of vertigo and won't return this season. Doctors recommended keeping him off the court at least two more weeks, the Lakers said Sunday, closing the book on 2013-14 for Gasol.

“It's been difficult,” he said of the illness. “I didn't get a grasp or a sense for how long it's going to take. They can't really tell you how long it's going to be.

“Luckily I've been able to carry a pretty normal life as far as walking around and stuff like that. But it's still a long stretch from playing and doing activity on the court.”

Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games this season, also missing time because of an upper respiratory infection and a strained groin.

Swept away

The Lakers obviously didn't make the playoffs, but their minor league affiliate advanced to the Development League postseason after securing the West Division's best record.

The L.A. D-Fenders didn't last long, getting swept by the Santa Cruz Warriors in the first round after a 138-126 loss Saturday at Toyota Sports Center.

Shawne Williams, who played 27 games for the Lakers this season, had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the D-Fenders. Forward Brandon Costner set a D-Fenders playoff record with 39 points.


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