'Renaissance man' Gasol happy to control his own destiny

Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:01pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Considered by many to be the 'Renaissance man' in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Spanish forward Pau Gasol is delighted finally to be the sole architect of his 'revival' as he eyes his playing future.

The 33-year-old from Barcelona has faced more than his fair share of trade rumors since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008 but now he can plot his own way forward with free agency looming in July.

Gasol has long been regarded as one of the most skilled and versatile players in the league but he endured a frustrating 2013-14 campaign during which he and Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni repeatedly disagreed on team strategy.

"I'm in charge of my future and destiny and I will listen to the possibilities on the table," double NBA champion Gasol, who had his Lakers exit interview at the team's El Segundo practice facility on Thursday, told reporters.

"I look at this as an opportunity, probably for the first and last time I'll be a free agent where I can choose. It's nothing like I've experienced before in the NBA.

"I'm still going to listen to the Lakers and what they have to offer and what they'll say about the team's situation and position at the time. We know what it is today, but we don't know what it'll be on July 1."

The 16-time NBA champion Lakers suffered a nightmare season, failing to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2005, and only the sixth time ever, as player injuries piled up and they finished with a dismal 27-55 record.

Gasol, a four-time All-Star with a deft touch and surprisingly agile movement, was one of their few bright spots, averaging 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game despite his differences with D'Antoni, who insisted on a small-ball offense.   Continued...

March 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) moves to the basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports - RTR3HTNR