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Lakers may bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from injury

Dec 9, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Pau Gasol has missed the Lakers last three games, two of which were losses, due to tendinitis in his knees.

It’s been evident watching him in the young part of this season that he doesn’t have the energy or the explosiveness necessary to give his team what is expected, so maybe the injury is the true reason behind his slow start.

But what if it isn’t, and Gasol simply can’t find his way for the second straight season in the Lakers offense?

Besides the possibility of being traded at some point, L.A. may look to mix up its lineups, and bring Gasol off the bench whenever he is ready to return to action.

From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers are debating whether to bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis, said a person familiar with the team’s thinking.

Gasol has struggled mightily this season, averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, both career lows.

The Lakers are trying to decide how a demotion to the bench would affect Gasol. If they determined it would be adverse, they’d keep him in the starting lineup.

Gasol isn’t the type to pout, and it would be tough to imagine him giving any less than 100 percent playing with the second unit. And let’s not forget, even if someone comes off the bench, the rotation will dictate that he’ll play at some point with members of the starting lineup.

Whether Gasol starts or comes off the bench shouldn’t matter to him personally; he’s started in every game he’s appeared this season, yet didn’t play the entire fourth quarter in Memphis, and was held out for the final six minutes in the embarrassing loss to the Magic.

Mike D’Antoni isn’t going to be afraid to tinker with the lineups while doing everything in his power to make this stacked Lakers team into the title contender we all expected it to be.

If Gasol can adapt to playing with the second unit, and can excel in that role while doing so, he’ll be on the floor in crunch time when it counts.

  1. bleed4philly - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    Wasn’t this the same guy who just a few months ago terrorized the USA national team in the gold medal game??? You can’t bring him off the bench, you trade him for either josh smith or igoudala.

    • llfreedman - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      What is everyone’s fascination with AI? People put him in a category he simply doesn’t belong…The guy is a great defender and he can scrap….but he just isn’t a star. He doesn’t have a consistent enough offensive skill set. He averages 12-14 points a game now and isn’t that efficient.

      In the Olympics he was great because he could just be an energy defensive guy. In the NBA- it just doesn’t make to sense to pay him all that money and have him as one of your “stars” that takes a high percentage of your team’s shots.

      Someone PLEASE convince me otherwise…

      • mytthor - Dec 9, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        His athleticism makes him a PERFECT complement to Nash. Nash will get the most out of him, and with his defense and MWP’s strength, the Lakers can play those 2 together in the frontcourt a lot and they will be an absolute killer defensively, switching every pick and roll. Iggy is miscast as “the man” but as a scottie pippen type he’s a great complimentary player.

      • scalfor3 - Dec 9, 2012 at 6:22 PM

        llfreedman: I completely agree with you, but Iggy would be the 4th option in LA. He’d be able to play the energy role he excels in.

  2. barkley4life - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Would be a mistake unless the knees are that bad. He needs Nash if the offense isn’t going to run through him in the post.

  3. omniusprime - Dec 9, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Just too stupid, Pau is still a starter and one of the best in the NBA. If bringing Pau off the bench is for a couple of games just to work himself back into playing shape then that’s not a bad idea, if it’s something meant to be permanent then it’s the dumbest idea since hiring Dumbtoni.

    What’s really need is a great coach, like Phil Jackson, to come in and put together this team into a championship winner and we’ve seen that Dumbtoni is too arrogant and ignorant to ever accomplish that.

    Go Pau!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! We Want Phil!!!

    • mytthor - Dec 9, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      Pau has the ability to be one of the best in the NBA but he’s not doing it now. Ginobili is one of the best in the NBA too but he comes off the bench. I’ve said for a while the Lakers outside of crunch time should basically be 2 teams – one with Nash and Howard and shooters, just running the P&R, and the other with Kobe and Gasol running more slowdown triangle type stuff.

    • moserftbl88 - Dec 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      Not saying Phil isn’t the best coach of all time but does anyone remember what happened last time Phil was coaching? He got out coached and swept out of the playoffs there’s no guarantee that they’d win a championship with him so stop with the bring back Phil we need Phil crap he’s not coming back and we have to find a way to win with D’Antoni

  4. sportsnut101 - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    i hope he does get traded n comes back n abuses the lakers cuz all of a sudden hes the new lamar odom dantoni is not a genius like people think he is kobe says he is did he make kobe a better scorer no did he make kobe a better 3 point shooter no kobe just gonna score doesnt matter whos the coach

    he will be fired next yr too

  5. hoodheisman - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    I really think short Buss would have to step down before Phil could even be approached. The mess that short Buss, Mike Brown, and D’Antoni have made with this roster just help validate what Phil has been able to accomplish (not that Phil’s accomplishments need any further validation).

  6. jerdogthompson - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    This could have been one of the most asinine sentences ever written;

    “Pau isn’t the type to pout”

    Really, then why does Kobe feel he needs to tel Pau to get his big boy pants on? Lets face it, the announcer in Houston had it spot on when he said the Lakers “have pooped their big boy pants”.

    These Lakers cost me a $900 parlay card in Vegas against OKC. I thought they had finally learned the system as Dumbtoni said. Gonna be a long season, a very long season.

    • mytthor - Dec 9, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      This is the silliness of the narrative on the Lakers. They are learning the system – but improving doesn’t mean you go into OKC and beat the hottest/best team in the NBA without 2 of your best players. Sometimes you just lose, and there isn’t always some crazy reason or problem that needs to be solved. I’ll take the loss against OKC over a narrow win in Philly or something any day.

  7. cosanostra71 - Dec 9, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I don’t think it’s the worst idea. It might help the bench, which has been a weakness this year. It matters more who finishes the game, not who starts it, and if this can get Pau into the game in the fourth more, I think he’ll be fine with the move.

  8. themagicfanguy - Dec 9, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Considering that there is no way that any team would trade a player of AI’s or Smith’s caliber for a 30+ year old declining albatross, the trade point is moot.

    • eventhorizon04 - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Pau is very skilled in the lowpost and probably would average 18-10 if he were the #1 guy on a different team where he’d be allowed to spend his time in the paint.

      Unfortunately for Laker fans who want to trade him, the Nuggets are built to be an uptempo team, and Pau doesn’t fit that, so scratch a trade for Iguodala.
      Atlanta has already said they don’t want Pau because they like what they’re seeing from Teague-Smith-Horford.

  9. bengzki - Dec 9, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    Poor Pau, this guy should be traded rather than ruining his career.

    Lakers needs a player who can spread the floor because Dwight now owns the paint in where we know Pau has his strengths, we know Pau can shoot, but he is more effective when his behind his back.

    A risk with Andrea Bargnani would i think be effective because he can shoot the lights out “IF” his consistency will improve. Add in there Calderon and they will have a good backup PG.

  10. jerdogthompson - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Looks like the Lakers have pooped their big boy pants again and in their own house no less against a team that has not won on the road this year. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

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