Given their friendship, it wasn't surprising that Ricky Rubio went to great lengths to defend fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol after practice Thursday, going so far as to suggest a potential Wolves personnel move.
Gasol, the 32-year-old veteran forward for the Lakers, is having his toughest NBA season. He missed eight games with knee tendonitis earlier in the season, then another five recently with a concussion. His 12.8 scoring average is a career low.
Since his latest return to action, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni has used him off the bench, something Gasol hasn't done in five years. In Tuesday's victory over New Orleans, D'Antoni sat Gasol for the entire fourth quarter.
Rubio was asked Thursday if Gasol was being treated fairly.
"I don't think so," Rubio said. "He proved in the league that he is one of the best. 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."
Rubio, joking, laughed. But it's true Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the past two seasons.
"It seems they don't want him, but actually they need him," Rubio said. "Because he is a great player. He can do a lot of things. He's had issues with his knees, and it's been a lot of years without resting for him. But he's a veteran. He knows how to play. He's a great player."