Pau Gasol Looks Forward to Larger Role With the Lakers

by July 31, 2013

With Dwight Howard no longer in the picture, an injured Kobe Bryant, and Mike D’Antoni having no choice but to make him the main option on the block, Pau Gasol is poised to have a major impact on the Los Angeles Lakers next season. The big fella says he’s eager for the opportunity. Per the AP: “‘I think I have the most uncertain period behind me,’ Gasol said on Tuesday. ‘The team has suffered a lot of changes, but as far as me, I am back in the position of a lot of responsibility, which I like, and I’m just going to focus on getting healthy. Now with Dwight gone I am the reference inside and I am more like I was a couple of years back when we made the finals three straight times and won two straight championships,’ he added. The Lakers enter a difficult point, with Howard snubbing the storied club to sign with the Houston Rockets. Bryant is still out indefinitely recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. Gasol wasn’t surprised by Howard’s decision to leave after just one season because it was ‘always a possibility.’ He described his former teammate a ‘nice guy’ and a ‘hard worker.’ Gasol spoke to the AP in the Barcelona airport, where he had just returned from a trip as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador to a refugee camp established in Iraq for the thousands fleeing the violence in neighboring Syria. Gasol called attention to the shortages of water, medicine and schools in the camp that was built for 15,000 but has taken in 50,000. Gasol said this work provides balance to his life as a pro athlete. It contrasts with the commotion surrounding his team, especially during last season when the Lakers were swept in the first round of the playoffs after beginning the year as a title contender. […] While Gasol wants to be the Lakers’ second scorer again after Bryant, he still hasn’t heard if coach Mike D’Antoni agrees. The Spaniard said he had spoken to Bryant, point guard Steve Nash and general manager Mitch Kupchak about the team after Howard decided to leave, but he has yet to speak to D’Antoni. Gasol had a rough first season with the former Suns and Knicks coach and lost his guaranteed starter’s job. Nevertheless, Gasol is looking forward to this season. D’Antoni ‘had a tough position, I had a tough position,’ Gasol said. ‘I had a job to do, he had a job to do, so there really is no mystery. I know he had challenges. It was a very challenging season. Next season is a different one and a new chapter. So we’ll start out fresh and do our best.'”