Pau Gasol, LA Lakers Struggling to Remain Competitive Before They Part Ways

DALLAS — Ghosts lurk around every corner here at American Airlines Center, the setting for the implosion of the Los Angeles Lakers’ last dynastic overture for who knows how long.

There’s Interview Room 1, where Kobe Bryant was already asked in the immediate moments after the Dallas Mavericks’ 2011 second-round sweep to rank his past championships, won but now gone.

There’s the visiting coach’s office, where Phil Jackson had consoled Bryant by saying it’s better to lose this badly and this far from the championship than when they approached the cusp and stopped. There’s the sideline where Andrew Bynum, ejected and infantile in the frustrating moment, ripped off his purple Lakers jersey in that final game of the failed three-peat.

And there’s the spot in front of the Lakers bench where Jackson jabbed Pau Gasol in the chest the previous game, trying in vain to get Gasol to fight back.

Gasol, amazingly at this point, isn’t just a ghost. Here he was again Tuesday night. Bryant is hurt, Bynum is unemployed, Jackson is chillin’, and Gasol is somehow still out there representing the Lakers.

He won’t be much longer, even though the Lakers declined the Cleveland Cavaliers’ trade offer to take Gasol off their hands in exchange for Bynum’s semi-guaranteed contract for a major money-saving opportunity.

On still being a Laker, Gasol said Tuesday with a small smile: "Feels good to survive, I guess, and live to fight another day."

It’s only a matter of time before the relationship ends, whether later this season or at the end of it when his contract expires.

What happened for now was nothing new: It was the Lakers staying true to their vision, which includes belief they might still trade Gasol somewhere in the next month-and-a-half before the trade deadline and net a useful bu...

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