Lakers News: Latest on Pau Gasol’s Contract Options and Kobe Bryant’s Comments

The Los Angeles Lakers remain one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA.

Kobe Bryant has returned to a lineup that was utilizing chemistry and playing smart basketball within the confines of head coach Mike D'Antoni's system to hover around .500 during the 19 games that the Black Mamba missed.

Now that he's back in the lineup, the Lakers have lost back-to-back contests and need to address whether or not they will remain fringe contenders, drop down to a lottery-bound squad or make the leap to a bona fide Western Conference powerhouse.

Let's take a look at what Bryant has been saying about his team's performance while he was away from the hardwood, his coach's reaction to that statement, as well as some of the latest information on Pau Gasol's impending free agency and contract situation.


Bryant Takes Jab at Teammates, D'Antoni Defends Them

Kobe wasn't exactly glowing in his assessment of L.A.'s performance without him in the lineup.

As per ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin, the Mamba told reporters on Monday, Dec. 9, "It's not like we were gangbusters before," in reference to the team's 10-9 record.

It was a snide remark that came shortly after Bryant's 2013-14 season debut against the Toronto Raptors. The future Hall of Famer showed an immense amount of rust in the 106-94 loss, scoring just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and turning the ball over eight times.

While Bryant was critical of his first outing—which came nearly eight months after he tore his Achilles at the tail end of the 2012-13 campaign—it wasn't exactly wise to make these disparaging observations.

D'Antoni was quick to refute his star player's statement during a shootaround on Tuesday, Dec. 10, as per McMenamin:

I have to disagree with that [Bryant's comment]. We were 6-2 in the last eight [games before Bryant's return] and I though...

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