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Another guy who should like the Howard trade? Pau Gasol.

Aug 13, 2012, 2:18 PM EDT

Pau Gasol AP

Last season was not the most fun Pau Gasol has ever had in the NBA. Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant were soaking up his post touches, Mike Brown’s offense had him at the elbow and at other times as a glorified stretch four. He was not used well.

Gasol has to love the Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum trade. For a whole lot of reasons.

Starting with he never wanted to leave Los Angeles. He likes living in a diverse city where there are touches of his native Barcelona — José Andrés’ The Bazaar for food, the weather — as well as a nice lifestyle near the beach. Now he stays (at least for a few years until his contract runs out). Now he has Kobe Bryant saying Gasol will be a Laker as long as he is there (which again is not a long-term guarantee).

But on the court Howard is a better fit with Gasol. Howard isn’t a guy just going to the block, he is also a very effective pick-and-roll big man — he shot 74 percent when he got the ball back rolling to the rim last year. And now it is Steve Nash running that play a lot of the time. Howard may stay out top, giving Gasol room to operate in the post at points. (Howard and Kobe will get touches there as well.)

Gasol will get mismatches at the four he can exploit. He will get runs with the second unit where the offense will go through him. If the Lakers do move to more of a Princeton offense, Gasol will get a lot of touches because of his passing skills.

And on defense Howard will make everything easier. He will clean up a lot of mistakes and shut down a lot of pick-and-rolls.

Don’t worry, at some point this season Kobe is going to rip Gasol to the media because Gasol will be coasting. Gasol does not bring Kobe’s nightly fire to the game.

But he does bring a lot of skills and a lot of things that were key to the Lakers winning two rings. And now maybe he will get the chance to use them rather than being forced out of his comfort zones like last year.

  1. aboogy123456 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    The best way to build a team is to have everyone playing at their full potential while not getting in the way of others. I love the lakers squad because you have the ball distributor, scorer, wing defender, inside post presence, and defensive and rebounding anchor. They have elite players to cover all aspects of the game, and unlike other teams (for example the heat), the lakers aren’t duplicating their skills anywhere. I’m very excited to watch this team play when Dwight gets back!

    • unxpexted1 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      yea LA has the proper pieces in the starting 5, everybody can play their set roles. I believe Bynums post presence really messed up Gasol last year moving him farther outside. (why they had him shooting threes i’ll never understand, dont care if he did make some). T

    • abasketballthing - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      You’re 100% right. That’s why a healthy Lakers team is better than everyone else right now. If Gasol was allowed to use all his skills every night, he’d still be considered a top 5 big man, I think.

      As you say, Miami’s stars have very similar skills. They won because they are so talented, motivated and smart that they were able to find a way to fit with each other on the court, but they’ll never come close to being a natural fit the way the Lakers will be from day one(unless Mike Brown screws it up).

  2. packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    The only problem with the Lakers is that they’re in the Western Conference. With Ibaka and Perkins, the Thunder match up a lot better with them than the Heat who have no center do.

  3. cantonbound13 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    The Heat have no shot against the Lakers. Their big men will destroy Miami inside. Dwhine Wade better work on his flopping skills.

    • dls612 - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      I dare the first Lakers fan to say Miami worries them! The truth shall set u free! Cause reading most of these comments, a lot of you appear to be concerned!

      • unxpexted1 - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:51 PM

        i’m more afraid of OKC then MIami

      • loungefly74 - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:29 PM

        i respect teams that win it. miami just did that. they are the top dogs right now till someone dethrones them. any team not afraid of miami is not being real.

        oh yeah…i kinda like the Lakers…

  4. polarbearsquares - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    I think the Lakers and OKC are pretty much even know. I will say this: OKC doesn’t really run any offense. As the Finals showed us, they don’t really have anyone who initiates the offense in the crunch. They rely on their athleticism. They have plenty of people who can create their own shot. Not a lot of people who can create shots for others. Or are always willing to do so.

    This is where Nash will help the Lakers. The Lakers will have a sustained attack and if the game is slowed down, they will always get good shots within their offense. Can OKC say the same thing? I don’t know.

    Just a theory. Doesn’t mean OKC can’t win anyway. Just saying it got that much harder.

    • borderline1988 - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Not that I necessarily disagree with you, but remember that OKC tore through San Antonio, which had the best offense in the game (and was one that was very structured and organized, with plenty of offense initiators). And, don’t discount Kobe’s ability to stop an organized offense dead in its tracks, then drive over it with a 10 ton Mac truck. I don’t care if Nash and Howard are now on the team – in the 4th quarter, who do you think is getting the ball for one-on-one isos?

      OKC has tremendous young scorers on their squad. The only team in the league that was able to stop them was the team that could match them athlete for athlete (the Heat).
      The Lakers got a whole lot better, but remember that they are a pretty old team, and OKC has the ability to run them out the building if the pace picks up. And even in the halfcourt, OKC still can compete with the Lakers.
      The other question is – OKC can go small-ball, and take their chances with a smaller defender on Howard. Howard is not the greatest passer, and isn’t a great post player unless he gets the ball exactly where he wants. So LA would be in tough to keep both Howard & Gasol on the floor at the same time in that scenario. And the Lakers are really, really thin past their starting 5.

    • abasketballthing - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      The Lakers are better. OKC’s main advantages are speed and athleticism, and they will be much smaller when facing a Lakers defense that has Dwight Howard in the middle. Their offense and defense are disorganized. They succeed because of the crazy level of talent and athleticism they have and the individual defensive skills of guys like Perkins, Ibaka and Westbrook. Mike Brown has an organized and effective defensive system(It didn’t work last year because of chemistry issues. It did work in Cleveland with weaker defenders, and it will work next season because now everyone is in a position in which they can be effective on both ends of the floor). With Howard, they’ll probably have a top 3 defense, if not better, and Steve Nash’s presence alone means that their offense will work better and more fluently than OKC’s. The difference is not big, but I think it’s clear that a healthy Lakers team would beat the Thunder in a seven game series.

      • polarbearsquares - Aug 13, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        I agree.

  5. theboysofdallas - Aug 13, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Thunder don’t match up better than heat bc if Perkins is out there that messes up their offense

  6. bigdeuceuno - Aug 13, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Why wouldn’t he? Who the hell wouldn’t want a player that is gonna take the pressure off u and win u another championship ring this headline is redamndiculous!

  7. cordae - Aug 13, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Call me crazy, but I got excited for Pau when i heard NASH was coming, not Dwight. He’s never really been a pick n roller (only because he’s never really had a nice pg for the other half of that combo) and given his intellegence and the right effort, he can become one. I see him doing so before dwight at least. That and steve has to be blind not to find the open man, with potential dwight-double teams down low, Pau may just be that guy!

  8. navzgm - Aug 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    That’s a lot of touching!

  9. money2long - Aug 13, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    this is (possibly) the second year in a row the lakers will start the season without their best center. i think someone like jordan hill can hold the fort down at center for however long it may take bynum to come back. but i am also intrigued at the possibility of coach brown getting antawn involved in the offense early by sticking him at PF and shifting pau to C. who knows, it’s a more talented starting five than having hill at center, and that may also be a blessing in disguise for meeks, who may be asked to be the 6th man in that scenario. but if coach brown elected to go with hill and pau in the starting lineup, antawn can be good firepower on the bench….oooohh the many possibilities to go with at mike brown’s disposal. this is the benefit of an allstar squad. the coach can do a lot, many options of how to win a game. in cleveland, coach brown’s best play was yelling “GIVE LEBRON THE DAMN BALL. SAVE MY JOB!”

  10. jimeejohnson - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Next time I’m in L.A. I will stay at the SLS Hotel, home of The Bazaar (for food). Thanks, Kurt, for the hot tip. Los Angeles is the French Riviera of North America, weather and culinary wise; too bad there’s a well overdue cataclysmic earthquake potential. Beats freezing in winter, any day.

  11. dasmol - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Laker vs. Heat Finals for the next couple of years. Get used to it.

  12. michflaguy - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    The Lakers definitely have OKC’s number now. But Miami? I don’t think so…LeBron Co are just getting started.

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