Starting power forward Pau Gasol falls under the category of players who have not found their groove under the new system and regime.
The team is 2-2 since the coaching change, with a brutal 113-97 loss to the (now) 3-9 Sacramento Kings, and last night’s 106-98 defeat at the hands of the first place Memphis Grizzlies taking place over that four game span.
In Wednesdays loss to the Kings, Gasol put up just 8 points on 3 for 10 shooting in 37 minutes of action. Last night in Memphis, he scored just 6 points on 3 for 8 shooting in even less time (27 minutes).
In fact, coach D’Antoni had Pau sitting on the bench for a majority of the fourth quarter.
What was his reasoning for it?
Pau Gasol has openly criticized D’Antoni’s decision-making, especially as it pertains to his playing time and role in the offense.
“All my looks are jump shots. I would like to see something to the basket and not just something rolling when Dwight is there.”
“Maybe the rotation should be a little bit shorter. That would help, too. Instead of playing 12 minutes straight, play eight. Come out, rest four – get another eight. Stuff like that. Maybe that would help. But again, that’s not totally up to me.”
Clearly, Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni are not on the same page as far as the game plan is concerned.
The new offense will take some getting used to for Pau. Teammate Kobe Bryant believes he knows why it’s been so difficult for Gasol to get adjusted.
“Pau is used to laboring up the floor and coasting a little bit. In this offense, we have to put the motor on the first few steps we move up the court.”
To use these past four games as some sort of excuse for Gasol’s mediocre play would be insinuating that he’s had a great year up until this point.
The truth of the matter is that Pau’s having an off year regardless. His shooting numbers are down (50.1% down to 43.1%), his scoring has dipped (17.4 to 14.1) and his rebound totals have fallen as well (10.4 to 9.5 boards a night). Whether or not these drops in numbers are in direct correlation to Dwight Howard being with the team remains to be seen.
The only thing that matters at the moment is that Pau Gasol is not producing for the Los Angeles Lakers. From his uninspired play on the court to his recent fourth quarter benching’s, the consistency just hasn’t been there.
Perhaps a change of scenery for Gasol would be beneficial for both parties.
Rumours have begun circulating about the Lakers possible interest in Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith. Atlanta has come forward and stated that the team has no desire to make a move revolving around Smith and Gasol, but realistically, both parties would be better off because of it.
Smith has struggled to start the year as the #1 option for the Hawks, which is surprising considering Joe Johnson is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets. In a run-and-gun style offense with Los Angeles, Josh could thrive and find new life as a member of the Lakers. Just imagine a 7 seconds or less running game with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith. It could reinvigorate the team and push them back to the forefront of the Western Conference standings.
Pairing up Gasol with Al Horford in Atlanta would give the Hawks the Eastern Conferences best front court, by far. Pau is better suited for an offense that runs the ball through the paint.
It just makes sense.
The Atlanta Hawks wouldn’t be the only possible suitor for a guy like Gasol. Many teams around the league would be chomping at the bits to acquire a championship quality forward who could change the fortunes of their ball club.
That’s only if the Lakers put Pau on the trade market though.
If Mike D’Antoni can make the necessary changes to help incorporate Gasol better into his schemes (i.e less jump shots, more looks down low), then perhaps both Pau and the Los Angeles Lakers can turn their collective fortunes around.
If things keep going at the pace they are, then I don’t see how the team doesn’t at least consider trading Pau Gasol and seeing what kind of value he could bring in.
Kobe Bryant isn’t going anywhere. Ditto Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
Gasol is the odd man out in L.A.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports