Before the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, it was announced that head coach Mike D’Antoni would relegate Pau Gasol to the bench. The Spaniard was not happy about the decision and at this point it looks like he won’t be around in LA much longer. In fact, Gasol has said as much.
With Gasol coming off the bench, the Lakers lost to the Bulls 95-83 to drop to 17-24 on the season. Gasol had 15 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks on the night, but it wasn’t good enough for the team.
Here’s what D’Antoni had to say about the move:
“I have to do what I think is right, and I think every player has to accept that whether they like it or not. That’s the bottom line.
“Now, does he deserve to start? Yeah he does, he’s been here a long time. But if (he) doesn’t, you know what? You’ve got to go on. You’ve got to contribute. You’ve got teammates to think about and you have the Lakers to think about and you have to do what’s best for the Lakers. Whether we agree or not, that’s something else. We can agree to disagree.”
Earl Clark has taken Gasol’s spot in the starting rotation, and has been doing an outstanding job in that role. He is a much better fit for D’Antoni’s system because he doesn’t clog the lane like the bigger, slower Gasol. Clark also can be in the game at the same time as Dwight Howard more comfortably.
Gasol obviously doesn’t see himself as a bench player and, frankly, most people around the league probably agree. Teams like the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves have been interested in him before and could probably be enticed into a deal again.
The Lakers need to get younger, more athletic and fill out a lackluster bench. But what they may try and snag in exchange for Gasol is a group of draft picks, since they’ve traded away almost all of theirs over the next few seasons to acquire Steve Nash and Howard.
At this point it’s fair to say Gasol won’t be around with the Lakers much longer.