Pau Gasol checked out of last night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies with 1 minute, 19 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter. He never returned to the floor after that.
When asked why he didn’t insert the 4-time All Star in the 4th quarter Mike D’Antoni said, “I was thinking, ‘Boy, I’d like to win this game.’ That was the reason.”
This does not bode well for Gasol’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Antawn Jamison took Gasol’s spot on the floor until he fouled out and then the Lakers went to a small-ball line-up that included Chris Duhon, Jodie Meeks, and Darius Morris.
Gasol was 3-for-8 on the night off mostly mid-range jumpers; he also handled the benching with great class.
“I don’t remember the last time that has happened in my career. It’s not my call. I’m a professional. When my number’s called, I’m out there,” Gasol said.
“There must be a thought process into it. It’s a coaching decision, and I respect it. Antawn was playing well, and then [D'Antoni] wanted to go with a smaller lineup and catch up.”
Personally, I believe D’Antoni needs to adapt his system to fit his personnel. Gasol is on of the most skilled big men in the game. He is one of the best passing big men in the league; he can shoot the jumper; he also has a nice low-post game.
Gasol seems to be thinking the same thing and would like to get more touches closer to the basket.
“All my looks are jump shots,” he said. “I would like to see something closer to the basket and not just rolling, especially when Dwight is there. But we’ll see. We’ll figure it out. We’re just starting, pretty much. I’m not a pure jump-shooter. I can stretch the defense out and make a couple jumpers. But how I get going is by getting in the paint and creating off the post, things like that.”
This will not end well for D’Antoni or Gasol and I anticipate that Gasol will be traded before the February trade deadline. There is simply not enough space for Dwight Howard and Gasol to both operate in D’Antoni’s system the way he currently wants to run it.
When asked whether Gasol’s conditioning was good enough to play the up-tempo style D’Antoni likes he said, “That could be questionable. You have to ask him. But he’ll be rested for tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
Yikes. Well, I expect Gasol will get plenty more rest over the next few weeks.