Pau's arrival pleases Kobe

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Kobe Bryant wasn't doing cartwheels, but yesterday's trade that brought Pau Gasol to the Lakers appears to have convinced the franchise player that the Lakers are committed to winning.

Bryant has been questioning that commitment since the off-season, sparking a slew of rumours that his days in L.A. were coming to a close.

Bryant, of course never went anywhere and now sounds like a man convinced his team wants to win as much as he does.

Bryant was asked if this is what he was hoping for.

"Absolutely, I think now it's a matter of just jelling and putting it together. We've got a great bench and we have a lot of length and versatility. Now it's time to walk the walk." Bryant even had nice things to say about team owner Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak.

"This shows a level of commitment that I have questioned over the summer," Bryant said. "I have to tip my hat to Buss and Mitch for going for it with this and now it's on us to go out there and work hard."

Gasol was on his way back to Los Angeles yesterday for a physical so he wasn't available last night nor were centre Kwame Brown or point guard Javaris Crittenton, who went to the Memphis Grizzlies in the trade along with the draft rights to Gasol's brother, Marc, and guard Aaron McKie. The Grizzlies also get a pair of first- round picks in the deal.

Gasol was averaging 18.9 points a night and 8.8 rebounds with Memphis. He'll fill in at centre until Andrew Bynum returns and then move to power forward, giving the Lakers a dominant frontcourt.

The only downside for the deal for Bryant was losing a couple of friends.

"My first thought was for Kwame and Javaris. Javaris was like a little brother to me. I tried to mentor him as much as I could and Kwame has been through a lot of ups and downs but he has a great heart," Bryant said.

Bryant was then asked if this might help keep him in Laker purple two years down the road when he's able to test the free agent market.

"It doesn't hurt, absolutely not," Bryant said.


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