Pau Gasol’s exit comments another sign he’s being shopped

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Pau Gasol says he doesn’t know where he really stands with the Lakers.

Which is code for “we’re going to shop you around on the trade market but we don’t know what we’ll get, so you may or may not be a Laker next October.”

Gasol had his exit meeting with Laker GM Mitch Kupchak and coach Mike Brown Wednesday and then spoke to the media. When asked about his status with the team going into the summer, Gasol said he didn’t know because the team couldn’t tell him. Via Elliott Teaford of the L.A. Daily News:

“I wish I could have clarification right now, they can’t give it to me. They had to talk to management. We didn’t talk too much about the future. We talked about this year. We talked about how things went. It was really positive.

“It’s kind of early. If they knew it would be good to know. But I understand we just finished playing two days ago. Things don’t work that easily. At some point, I won’t worry too much about it. It’s something I’ve been through already this year. If something does happen, it does. If it doesn’t, I’ll be happy to be back next training camp ready to go and have a more peaceful year and focus on our goal to win a championship.”

It’s out of his control, so Gasol is just going to go with the flow. The reed bending in the river.

Kupchak echoed the same thoughts when he met with the media and said he thought this season took a toll on Gasol. Via NBA.com.

“I thought personally that he did the best anybody can do being professional and saying the right things, being a good teammate, having a really good season up until I met with him a couple hours ago. He’s the consummate teammate, the consummate professional. But what took place is hard for a player to deal with, and I’m sure there’s a little bit of trust that’s not quite the same.”

The Lakers need to make big roster changes after getting bounced in the second round for the second consecutive year. Problem is they are way over the salary cap and have no draft picks to speak of. The only way to make a serious change is to move Gasol or Andrew Bynum. And as the Lakers have already put Gasol in a trade — the three-team Chris Paul deal killed by David Stern — you know they are not averse to making a move.

But getting value for him is another thing. And if the choice is making a bad trade or no trade, the Lakers will stand pat.

Bottom line: Pau Gasol, welcome to limbo.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.