From day one, the relationship between Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni has been anything but cordial and pleasant. During the season and off-season, the relationship was said to be repaired whether it was due to nice dinners or private meetings between the two, but it should not come as any surprise that problems between the two have once again shown its ugly head.
Gasol, speaking to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, had strong comments for D’Antoni’s system and the impact it’s having on his play:
“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness,” he said. “When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity….
“This year hasn’t been ideal, certain things are not ideal for me, but that’s not going to change any time soon,” he said.
To which D’Antoni responded:
“I can’t lie to him… Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up,” he said.
Which lead us to this response by Gasol:
“I don’t pay attention. Mike is sometimes all over the place, I don’t give much credit to things like that,” he said.
Unfortunately for Gasol, myself and plenty of Lakers’ fans are siding with D’Antoni this time around, which should speak volumes. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, published this quote from D’Antoni at shoot around this morning, questioning Gasol’s effort:
“It’s also a nice excuse not to play hard,” D’Antoni said. “That’s a classic, ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.’ Well, you don’t have trouble getting up to the paystub line. You know what you need to do to get your check. You know what to do. They will. They’ll figure it out.”
Gasol’s play dating back to last season as been average at best. This season, he is averaging 14.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists playing 30.3 minutes a game, but has a field goal percentage of 41%, which is terrible for a center and is the worst in the league for qualified centers, behind Al Jefferson at 44%.
Offensively, he is a shade of his former self and has continued to use D’Antoni as an excuse for his play instead of taking responsibility for it himself. There is zero issue with Gasol wanting to be put in certain spots in the offense, all players want to be comfortable. Where the issue lies is that when Gasol does get into the post, he gets pushed out 5-10 feet from his original position, resulting in long jumpers. Simply put, he can do more by being assertive in the offense, but doesn’t seem interested in doing so more times than not.
On the defensive side of things, there’s not many, if at all any good things to say about Gasol. Although he is battling injuries, there has been times where he does not attempt to jump to block shots and instances where he will shy away from contact. Gasol isn’t a defensive enforcer in any sense, but it’s the effort that bothers me.
Gasol has been a professional on and off the court during his time in Los Angeles. You rarely hear negative things about him, so it’s disappointing to hear a situation like this.
At this point, Gasol has one of two options. The first is to play this season out, keep his mouth shut, and find a better situation for himself in free agency or risk getting traded. The second is simply to demand a trade out of Los Angeles. With the injuries this team has gone through the last two seasons, the loss of Dwight Howard, and the losing, this franchise doesn’t need more distractions as they attempt to get through this season. Unfortunately for Gasol fans, it looks as if a trade could be on the horizon if things do not change.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Lakers could be looking to trade the disgruntled Spaniard:
League sources told Sporting News that the Lakers have been fielding trade offers for Gasol for a while now, and finally could find a new home for their disgruntled big man.
Gasol will earn $19.3 million this year, an obstacle to any deal. But he is in the final year of his contract, making him a workable target for a team hoping to find a short-term big man who won’t sit on the books past this season. Another obstacle—the Lakers are protective of their cap space, and any deal they make would have to include enough expiring salaries to allow them to pursue a max-contract free agent in July.
Could the Lakers find the right deal for Gasol? That’s unclear. They have shopped him for the last three seasons, had in fact traded him in the Chris Paul deal, then kept him around and have turned down offers for the 12-year veteran over the past two seasons.
It’s important to remember that the Lakers will not sacrifice significant cap room unless it’s a player that can help them move forward in their rebuilding process. With Kobe’s extension in place, the team will almost surely look for expiring contracts and draft picks as Sporting News reports, but the question remains if there is a team out there willing to give the Lakers what they want, especially with the inability to trade draft picks until 2019 due to the Steve Nash and Dwight Howard trades.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. This situation seems like it will only get worse but let’s hope a resolution comes quickly so the focus can stay on the basketball court.