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Rubio backs fellow Spaniard Gasol, blasts Lakers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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Pau Gasol's pal Ricky Rubio says if used in the right way, Pau is a top player in this league. (US Presswire)
Pau Gasol's pal Ricky Rubio says if used in the right way, Pau is a top player in this league. (US Presswire)
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Rubio is standing up for his fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, saying he doesn't think it's fair the Los Angeles Lakers are bringing Gasol off the bench this season.

Rubio was asked about his close friend Gasol on Thursday, one day before his Minnesota Timberwolves were scheduled to host the Lakers. The two talk often during the season.

It's been a difficult season for Gasol, who was coming off a dominant performance for Spain at the London Olympics. He's missed big chunks of time with tendinitis in his knees and a concussion and hasn't seemed to find a role in Mike D'Antoni's offense. D'Antoni has been starting journeyman Earl Clark in Gasol's place, something that Gasol and Rubio don't like.

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"He proved to the league he is one of the best," Rubio said. "He can pass. He can shoot. He can rebound. He can do a lot of things. I think if you use him in the right way he is a top player in this league. If they don't want him, we are more than welcome to get him."

Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors for the last few seasons now, much to the chagrin of Kobe Bryant, who has openly campaigned not just to keep one of the league's most gifted post players, but to continue featuring him on offense.

"It's been the last two years that it seems like they don't want him, but actually they need him," Rubio said. "He's a great player. He can do a lot of things and he had some issues with the knees, too. It's been a lot of years without resting for him. But he's a veteran. He knows how to play."

The Timberwolves have often been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Gasol. Wolves coach Rick Adelman has long been intrigued by the possibilities of a Gasol-Kevin Love pairing in the frontcourt, seeing similarities to the Chris Webber-Vlade Divac tandem that he employed to great success with the Sacramento Kings.

But the Wolves have been decimated by injuries this season and have a 17-25 record, and are a distant 12th in the Western Conference, so making a trade for a highly paid veteran like Gasol seems unlikely. The 32-year-old Gasol is making $19 million both this season and next, a big salary that makes it difficult to trade him.

"It's hard, when you are hearing things with the rumors that you are going to be traded, to be focused," Rubio said. "Like he says, he's a professional and he's been playing for a long time and he's going to keep doing what he doing."

Gasol is averaging a career-worst 12.8 points per game and is shooting a career-low 44.8 percent during this messy Lakers season. Not normally one to vent publicly, Gasol has complained about his role, most recently when he was benched for the entire fourth quarter of a win over New Orleans.

"Well, you know, 'all for one' didn't last [very] long, did it?" D'Antoni quipped before the loss to Phoenix. "Forty-eight-hour shelf life. That's not bad. We'll take what we can get."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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