The Lakers are hanging in there, but Pau Gasol, who was supposed to be a dependable and veteran presence in the general absence of either, has put up career-lows (or nearly so) in almost every category. Gasol says he's being used wrong. Mike D'Antoni says Pau's just dogging it.
Gasol's probably done in Los Angeles after this season, if not sooner. He wasn't happy with Dwight Howard's arrival, he wasn't happy with D'Antoni taking over, he's definitely not happy with his role in D'Antoni's offense, and in an outspoken interview after practice yesterday, admitted a trade "is a possibility."
"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."
D'Antoni agrees that it's not about to change—"Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up," he said Thursday. But at this morning's shootaround, D'Antoni had the chance to respond more fully to Gasol's comments from Thursday. He wasn't so politic:
"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.
"That's one thing. They don't want to do it that way. I understand that. That's when you have to accept it or not. But there's no reason not to play hard."
Sick burn, coach. That'll motivate a disgruntled player—calling him out as lazy.
Every spat like this boils down to a player wishing he had a different coach, and a coach wishing he had a different player. It happens. But there are ways to mitigate the distractions. Like, for example, talking to each other. Gasol said D'Antoni has never once sat him down and talked to him about being tougher, playing harder, and according to Bill Plaschke, Gasol sounded genuinely pissed about the lack of personal communication. And that was before D'Antoni told reporters Pau's just collecting his check and going home.
Could this be the best Pau Gasol is going to be? [LA Times]
Mike D'Antoni suggests Pau Gasol needs to play harder [Inside The Lakers]