May 11, 2011, 1:59 PM EDT
Because Pau Gasol didn’t look the least bit fatigued in the playoffs….
The Lakers big man said in his exit interview that he is leaning toward playing for Spain as it tries to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics, according to ESPN Los Angeles.
The last couple summers Gasol said the Lakers deep runs into the NBA finals had Gasol backing off national team commitments.
“My decisions the last couple years have been because of a lack of rest and time to recover from our runs to the championships before the beginning of the season,” he said. “But this obviously gives me more opportunity of participating with my national team.”
Spain plays in the EuroBasket tournament that starts Aug. 31 and runs for two weeks in Lithuania.
No Laker looked like they needed time away from the team and game to recharge their batteries this playoffs more than Gasol. A lockout that costs games could make this decision moot, but you can bet Lakers fans will be concerned.
Gasol also went to great lengths to say that the speculation and reports about his personal life and its impact on his game crossed the line. Those rumors included him having a rift with Kobe Bryant and his wife over Gasol’s relationship with his girlfriend.
On Tuesday, Gasol called rumors of a rift between he and Bryant or a breakup with his girlfriend “absolutely false.”
“My girlfriend and I are fine, we’re happy, we’re doing well. Kobe and I are fine,” Gasol told ESPNLosAngeles.com in the parking lot outside the Lakers training facility Tuesday, after his exit interview with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Phil Jackson.
“She [Lopez Castro] was suffering because she saw me suffering. And I was suffering because I was seeing her suffering. When you add that to other stuff to what’s already happening, it’s tough.”
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