Pau Gasol looked terrible in the Los Angeles Lakers’ Friday night loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and his new coach wasn’t afraid to say so. After benching his All-Star forward in the fourth quarter, Mike D’Antoni was less than complimentary during the post game comments.
When pressed on what he was thinking when he kept Gasol out at the end of that game, D’Antoni’s reply was short and sweet: “I was thinking I’d like to win this game.”
Gasol admittedly only had six points and four rebounds in the outing – but D’Antoni burying him both publicly and privately was still ridiculously brutal.
One day later, the Lakers were back on the floor to take on the Dallas Mavericks. This time things went far more smoothly. Gasol finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in the blowout 115-89 win. While he still played fewer minutes than any other starter not named Darius Morris, clearly the Lakers’ much maligned power forward was much more comfortable in Dallas than he had been in Memphis.
"Pau's a great guy. I wasn't trying to disrespect him," D'Antoni said on Saturday (via the Los Angeles Times). "Pau's a great player and he always will be a great player, so we'll keep tinkering and working.
"We've got to figure out how to get him more involved. Not just him, how to get Dwight more involved. We can't have our big guys just shooting four, five or six times."
That being said, D’Antoni still wasn’t willing to budge on the system itself. The players will need to adjust to the system he insisted, not vice versa.
"I still think the system that we run will be even more beneficial to them whether they're back to the basket or not," he said. "I just don't like the traditional 'I'm going to run down and I'm going to post up and we're going to beat each other half to death.'
"We're going to move the ball. We're going to pick and roll … and the ball should find energy, and a lot of that energy the bigs are going to supply."
There are very legitimate questions regarding how Gasol fits into D’Antoni’s model for the way offenses need to be run. Those questions will ultimately be answered over the next month. This much is for certain, though: D’Antoni isn’t going anywhere. Either Gasol will be sync himself up with the new coach’s plans or he’ll find himself on the first plane out of Los Angeles. There is no third option.
(Kudos Los Angeles Times)