Kobe Bryant Tells Pau Gasol He Wants Him to Return to Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant wants Pau Gasol to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I spoke with Kobe before the end of the season and he told me he wanted me to stay," Gasol told Marca.com, via the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina. “We have a great mutual respect and a great friendship.”

Is Bryant's wish Gasol's to command? 

Not exactly.

The chances of Gasol staying in Los Angeles seemed slim after this season. He wants to win and the Lakers are kind of, sort of, rebuilding. Gasol also expressed concern for his role within Mike D'Antoni's system. 

"I’ve never concealed the fact that D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game," he said on his personal blog, per Lakers Nation. "Everybody knows this."

Make that one obstacle cleared.

D'Antoni's resignation makes the Lakers more Gasol-friendly. The idea of him returning under D'Antoni was ludicrous. He was marginalized on offense, and asked to play well outside his comfort zone.

But while the Lakers are heading in a different coaching direction, there are still a number of things at play. 

For one, there's the coaching search. Plenty of names have been tossed around, but until a hire is made, there's no guarantee Gasol will be more valued by the new head coach.

There's also the issue of money. Gasol earned nearly $19.3 million this year, per ShamSports.com. He must accept a substantial pay cut if he's to return. As Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster notes, the Lakers also need to renounce his rights if they're to truly enjoy the extent of their projected cap space:

Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, just like 10 of his other teammates will. While it's unclear what the plans of newly extended general manager Mitch Kupchak are, the Lakers will almost certainly have to renounce all rights to Gasol in order to ...

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