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June 28, 2017

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Pau Gasol says he wants to stay with Lakers

EL SEGUNDO, California -- In six years with the Lakers, Pau Gasol has developed a special relationship with the organization and its city.

He has won two NBA championships and been a steward for the international game. In return, the Lakers made him their second highest-paid player, behind only Kobe Bryant.

For six years, it has been a love story. But the relationship appears to be nearing its end, either by attrition when Gasol's contract expires this season, or if the Lakers opt to trade him before the Feb. 20 deadline.

But on Thursday, two days after a report surfaced Gasol could be traded to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum's attractive contract, the Spaniard expressed a strong desire to remain in Los Angeles.

"I'm not the type of guy that likes to jump ship because everything is not going right, right now," Gasol said. "I'm a loyal guy. I'd like to continue to be here and fight with the guys that are here. Once we get bodies back, everything will be better. Right now, I'd like to continue to stay here. It's my team, my city."

Talks between the Lakers and Cavaliers for a Gasol-Bynum swap have cooled, reported Thursday. If the deal were consummated, the Lakers would likely waive Bynum for salary-cap relief.

Gasol has been criticized for missing games because of an upper respiratory infection while teammates have been out because of more serious injuries. Last month, Gasol was openly critical of Coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, questioning whether he was getting the ball in spots that made him most effective.

Gasol has long been talked about as a part of trades, before he joined the Lakers in 2008 and against in 2011, when the Lakers traded him to New Orleans for Chris Paul before Commissioner David Stern blocked the deal.

"It's just kind of old news for him," D'Antoni said, "and I'm sure when anything goes bad there's rampant speculation. The guys have to be used to playing through it. It's nothing we can control, I'm sure Pau will play right through it."

Gasol has appeared in 29 games this season, averaging 15.1 points and 9.2 rebounds. He enjoyed one of his better individual performances of the season Tuesday, tying a season high with 25 points.

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