This is turning out to be a season for Pau Gasol to forget. His stat line is a career low, his minutes aren’t where they should be, and he’s already missed eight games with knee tendonitis. Clearly Pau isn’t in full form, and his true potential has not yet been unlocked in Mike D’Antoni’s system.
So with these problems existing, D’Antoni invited Gasol out to dinner at a local Manhattan Beach restaurant to clear the air and talk about how Pau is going to fit into D’Antoni’s new system, according to the LA Times.
Pau had some clear issues he wanted cleared up with D’Antoni. They were as follows:
1. He no longer wanted to be benched in the final minutes of crucial games, or any game for that matter.
2. He wants the ball more in the post instead of on the perimeter, where he is less comfortable.
3. He wants D’Antoni to trust him with the ball in his hands.
Gasol had most recently been benched in the final minutes of the 101-100 win over Charlotte. Being a two- time NBA Champion, Gasol felt he should be playing in these crucial minutes in order to help his team pull away with a W. Sources familiar with the conversation say that D’Antoni agreed to no longer bench Gasol in the final minutes. D’Antoni’s new system also calls for more spacing on the floor, which means he wants Gasol to be out on the perimeter more than in the post where Gasol is most comfortable. And finally, Gasol wants to be trusted as he feels he has earned that trust with the 2 championships he’s been apart of in LA. D’Antoni then had this to say regarding their meal together:
I thought he was great and gave me a lot of insight into a lot of things. It was more of a feeling-out process and what makes him feel comfortable. He’s a very intelligent basketball player. Why wouldn’t I get his opinion about a lot of things?”
Overall this system isn’t quite the perfect fit for Gasol, as he is a post player and this system calls for him playing the perimeter. However D’Antoni wanting to share a meal with Pau and talk things over shows the great deal of respect that he has for Gasol. More from that dinner can be seen from here. Hopefully things get better as the season wears on, and Gasol and D’Antoni can meet halfway with their different ideas of playing basketball. Bottom line, this dinner was beneficial for both parties, and things should be looking up for Gasol from here on out.