Olympics: Gasol excited to have Howard join Lakers
The Lakers completed a 12-player, four-team NBA deal Friday that brought the Orlando Magic star to the Lakers in a flashback to a similar deal done during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that saw Orlando giant Shaquille O'Neal go to Los Angeles.
So as Gasol led Spain into the Olympic final by scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 67-59 triumph over Russia, he could not help but think about how powerful the Lakers might be in the next NBA season.
"I'm excited about our team," Gasol said. "It's hard for me to block it out completely. It's puts us in position of being an extremely powerful team and all the chances to go for the (NBA championship) ring."
Howard, who would have been on the US Olympic team had he not suffered a back injury during the season, will join US Olympic star guard Kobe Bryant and Gasol, a power forward in the Laker lineup, in a superstar lineup.
"I'm more than happy," Gasol said. "I'm have a lot of hopes for the team we have for next year."
Howard's possible trade has been a year-long soap opera, the off-again and on-again move seemingly having him go to the Brooklyn Nets at one stage before that deal fell through.
"These kind of transactions happen," Gasol said. "I saw myself involved once in one and I was the object of a lot of rumours about a new one last year."
The complicated salary cap moves that had to be made involved many other players, including the Lakers sending centre Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers.
"I want to wish Andrew the best with his new team," Gasol said.
In addition to Howard, the Lakers receive Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from Orlando while sending Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga and a future first round and second round draft pick to the Magic.
Orlando sent guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia for centre Nikola Vucevic and first-round draft pick Moe Harkless and obtained guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver.
Denver landed US Olympic forward Andre Iguodala from the 76ers.
Howard was a member of the US gold medal team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 54 games last season, he averaged 20.6 points, a career-best 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots.
Gasol learned of the deal when a reporter pestered him with the news as he tried to stretch his muscles before the semi-final.
"He wanted to get something while I'm stertching before the Olympic semi-final," Gasol said. "I had to give him a little something so he would go away and let me stretch."