LOS ANGELES--Pau Gasol was traded to Houston a few years ago, or so the Los Angeles Lakers thought.
Since then, he's been subjected to more trade rumors than can be counted on two hands.
But for some reason, he wants to remain with the franchise through next Thursday's trade deadline.
"My preference would be to stay," Gasol said Thursday. "That's what I've been saying all year, though the circumstances are difficult right now for our team and nobody's too happy. But it's still my team and I still want to be here."
He even feels wanted by them, as ludicrous as it sounds.
"Otherwise I wouldn't be here," he said. "The team would have pulled the trigger with prior opportunities that I'm sure had been on the table. I feel like the team appreciates me. It's just a tough moment, I think, as far as the franchise losses. That always is going to stir things up and you've got to look at options and possibilities to get better as a team, a franchise.
"I don't take it personal. I appreciate that a lot of teams have showed a lot of interest in me and believe in my abilities to make them better and help them be a better team."
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak declined to give a percentage on Gasol's chances of staying with the team, though he acknowledged an absence of urgent trade talks.
"Going into the weekend, it's pretty quiet right now," Kupchak said Thursday.
The Phoenix Suns broke off trade talks for Gasol last week after thinking the Lakers' asking price was too steep.
The Suns potentially control four first-round picks in the June draft, including relatively high ones from Washington and Minnesota. The Suns also own their own pick, which is surprisingly low because of their unexpected success, and Indiana's first-rounder, an even lower selection.
"Things are kind of quiet right now," Gasol said, mirroring Kupchak's comments. "But I think there's something potential. But right now the offer would have to change a little to make it considerable."
If the Lakers make a deal, Gasol will leave the only team he's known since February 2008.
"I've been mentally ready more or less and emotionally ready for a while now ... for three years now," Gasol said, chuckling, not needing to remind everybody the Lakers wanted to send him to the Rockets via the vetoed three-team Chris Paul trade in December 2011.
"As we get close to it, I'm sure things will heat up at some point and we'll see if they actually fall through or they don't. Either way, I'll be ready and once that date kind of passes, just finish off the season strong and see where I'm at."
Gasol said it was "a possibility" he would play again next Wednesday against Houston, the Lakers' first game after the All-Star break.
He received medical clearance Thursday to begin increasing his basketball activity. He has missed six games because of a groin injury.
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