(Reuters) - Pau Gasol expressed uncertainty about his future with the Los Angeles Lakers after his postseason exit interview with general manager Mitch Kupchak at the team’s training facility on Wednesday.
The Lakers were eliminated from the Western Conference semi-finals by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday after an erratic playoff run during which Gasol was accused by team mate Kobe Bryant of not displaying enough aggression.
The Spaniard had already experienced an uncertain regular season after a blockbuster three-way trade that would have sent him to the Houston Rockets and brought All-Star guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
“I wish I could have clarification but they can’t give it to me right now,” the seven-foot forward told reporters about his Lakers future at the El Segundo training facility.
”I think management still has to talk to ownership to see what direction this team will be going next year. We really didn’t talk much about the future.
“We talked about this year, how things have gone. Everything was really positive and encouraging for potential next season.”
Gasol, a four-times All Star who is renowned for his all-round skills and deft touch, conceded he had often felt uncomfortable as the team’s third option on offense this season behind fellow All Stars Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
”I’ve never experienced that in my career since I was very young,“ he said. ”I still gave it my best, but that was challenging at times.
“I told them it was hard for me at times. I never had to search for offense or looks on the teams I’ve been on. I always had them because of what I bring to the table.”
Gasol ended the season with an average of 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, though those figures dropped to 12.5 and 9.5 in the playoffs.
After the Lakers’ heartbreaking 103-100 loss to the Thunder in Game Four that put them on the brink of elimination from the best-of-seven series, Bryant singled out the Spaniard for not showing the necessary aggression.
“Pau has got to be more assertive,” Bryant said of Gasol, who finished with only 10 points and five rebounds while committing three turnovers in that game.
“He’s the guy they’re leaving (open). When he’s catching the ball, he’s looking to pass. He’s got to be aggressive. He’s got to shoot the ball or drive the ball to the basket. He will next game.”
Gasol, as ever a genuine team man, felt both he and the rest of the Lakers squad had given their all throughout the season.
“We all tried hard to make it a successful year, make the best out of it,” he said.
“I‘m proud of my part, as much as has gone on, I tried my best to give my best and adjust to a different role and position within the team. I still tried to deliver as much as I could.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford