Mar 3, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) dunks the ball on Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) and small forward Nicolas Batum (88) during the first quarter of the game at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets Falling Behind In Pau Gasol Sweepstakes

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have emerged as the frontrunners to land Pau Gasol according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Gasol, 33 has been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for the last seven years. He was instrumental in the Lakers reaching three straight NBA Finals, winning back to back championships.

Despite his successes on the Lakers, Gasol has been part of numerous trade rumors. Most famously, he was part of a mega three team trade that would have made him a Houston Rocket, and Chris Paul a Laker.

The trade rumors as well as coaching changes during his tenure has affected Gasol morale, and Gasol has been linked to the Rockets for close to three year already.

With the rebuilding phase that the Lakers are in, Gasol will look get a chance to look elsewhere this offseason.

The Houston Rockets are among the lengthy list of teams that have showed interest in in the Spaniard. Gasol has been considered one of the best skilled power forwards throughout his career, and many teams feel he is the final piece to a championship puzzle.

With that being said, Gasol is 33-years old and is not the most coveted free agent on the market. Many teams, including the Rockets and Bulls have their eyes on a bigger fish in the pond.

This has allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the early advantage in the Pau Gasol sweepstakes. The Thunder feel they can add both Gasol and Mike Miller in free agency. The two played together in Memphis and have a close relationship.

A league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com that Gasol spoke with Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti on the phone Wednesday.

Pau Gasol would have to take a reduced salary to come to the Thunder, but according to Marc Stein of ESPN, he is “opening up to the possibility” of joining forces with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

If Pau Gasol indeed signs with the Thunder, this would take one of the Rockets targets off the free agent board.

Gasol is a backup plan for the Rockets if Carmelo Anthony doesn’t sign with them. The Rockets will have to wait and see what Anthony does before they offer Gasol a contract if he is still available by that time.

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Tags: Houston Rockets Pau Gasol

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