Jan 19, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
The Lakers don’t need any more problems in this troubled season, one in which the team is merely trying to figure things out just enough to sneak back into the playoff picture before time runs out.
But there may be one brewing between Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni.
In Gasol’s first game back from the injury, he came off the bench due to concerns over his conditioning, but that was believed to be a short-term role for the player who was a part of two championship teams in Los Angeles.
It turns out, however, that Mike D’Antoni is strongly considering bringing Gasol off the bench more permanently. And that’s not something that’s going to sit well with Gasol.
My job is to put the best team on the floor,” D’Antoni explained after admitting that he had not yet decided if Gasol or Clark would start against the Raptors. “If I feel like (starting Gasol is) the best way to go, then we’ll go that way. If I don’t, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that I got to do what I think is right. I think every player has to accept what is right, whether they like it or not. So, that’s the bottom line.
“Now, does he deserve to start? Yeah, he does. He’s been here a long time and probably that will happen, but if it doesn’t, then you know what? You got to go on. You got to contribute. You got teammates to think about. You got the Lakers to think about. You got to do whatever is best for the Lakers.”
That all sounds fine, and D’Antoni is right — if in fact the best lineup combinations for the team involve Gasol beginning the game as a reserve, then theoretically, so be it. Gasol should be fine with it for the greater good of the team, etc.
Managing egos, however, is a huge part of being a successful head coach in the NBA, especially at the championship level. The ability to do that masterfully, more than anything, is the reason why Phil Jackson has 11 rings as a coach. Sure, he had all the talent in the world. But getting Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to coexist long enough for the Lakers to get three straight titles out of the pair before things went south was no small feat, and D’Antoni risks alienating Gasol if he doesn’t take into account the ego of one of the team’s best players, and one who is among those Bryant trusts the most.
Gasol will, of course, do his best to make it work. But his comments on the situation were telling, as he made it clear that he’s not going to be thrilled if indeed the decision is made to continue to bring him off the bench.
“I’ve never come off the bench in my career,” Gasol said. “(Thursday) was my first game off the bench with the Lakers, maybe a couple other games due to injuries, but that’s it. I’ve been a starter my entire career. I’ve been a star starter my entire career, so I want to continue to be a star starter.”
A “star starter.” There’s the ego piece creeping in, and again, D’antoni needs to be sensitive to that.
Now, to the coach’s credit, he’s said more than once that it isn’t who starts the games that matter; it’s who finishes them. And he practiced what he preached in Thursday’s game against Miami — Gasol came off the bench and played just 24 minutes, but was on the floor with the rest of the starters for the entire fourth quarter when the game was in the balance.
As we discussed on the podcast, there’s an easy way to make this work. D’Antoni could placate Gasol by starting him for the game’s first four-to-six minutes, and then rotate him how he sees fit the rest of the contest, before inserting him down the stretch with the rest of the players who make up the team’s strongest lineup.
D’Antoni has a reputation of being a bit stubborn where player matters are concerned, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go with Gasol as a reserve for another game or two. But it would be to the long-term detriment of his team, and this season more than any other, the Lakers simply don’t need any more problems.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:33 PM EST
Tom Chambers, the popular former Suns star player and current broadcaster, has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, reports the Arizona Republic. Chambers has issued an apology to the Suns organization and its fans. The Arizona Republic has all the details, and they are not pretty. Chambers, 54, was pulled over about 9:45…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:28 PM EST
Jeff Van Gundy is a lead analyst for ESPN, and would normally have been the color commentator on the national broadcast of the Knicks-Bulls contest aired on ESPN Wednesday night. But due to a complicated set of circumstances, Van Gundy didn’t participate. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today has the details: ESPN executives and analyst Jeff…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:03 PM EST
Chris Paul finding DeAndre Jordan for an alley-oop slam should be simply another chapter in the ongoing Lob City saga that the Clippers players have no interest in embracing. But whether the end result is a dunk or something else entirely, it seems destined to end up on highlight reels nonetheless. Early on in the…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:46 PM EST
Carmelo Anthony has been with Jordan Brand for 10 years now, and as he explains in the video clip above, there’s a nod to the past within the design of his latest signature shoe, the Melo M10. From the official release: “If you see this shoe from afar, the chrome statement piece is the first…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:23 PM EST
We told you this was coming and now a real has been reached: D.J. Augustin is about to be a Chicago Bulls. Augustin cleared waivers on Wednesday and has reached a deal as a free agent with Chicago, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Augustin needs to pass a physical with the Bulls on Thursday.…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:55 PM EST
We told you already Justin Timberlake was in Indianapolis last night, sitting courtside to watch the Pacers beat the Heat then playing a little H-O-R-S-E with Paul George. As an in-arena promotion, the Pacers have a bit where Danny Granger sings a long with a song in his headphones — and he can’t sing —…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:43 PM EST
Omer Asik wants to get traded. He’s said that since this summer, but it hasn’t happened as Rockets GM Daryl Morey isn’t going to move until he thinks he has a good deal. That’s not fast enough for Asik, who made a move and changed agents to one known for helping guys get moved. So…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:37 PM EST
In the latest edition of PBT Extra, Kay Adams asks about the Pacers win over the Heat Tuesday — I don’t read much into any regular season meeting between these games. That said, I still stand by my pick of the Pacers to win the NBA title this year. Then we shift our focus to…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:12 PM EST
Dwight Howard improved after after the All-Star break last season – before All-Star break: 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game; after All-Star break: 18.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game – and the reason is no secret: His back got healthier. But that wasn’t the only factor. Howard told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com he…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:39 PM EST
The Charlotte Bobcats’ outlook is changing. When they signed Al Jefferson this summer, the theory was they would rather be pedestrianly bad rather than historically bad – even if that meant lower lottery odds. I argued Charlotte should go all-in to be totally bad for another season, and that pulling in itself in opposite directions…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:36 PM EST
The Warriors need big-man depth. Festus Ezeli has been out all season. Jermaine O’Neal and Draymond Green are banged up. Marreese Speights can’t gain Mark Jackson’s trust. Andre Iguodala is injured, too, and although he mostly plays on the wing, his absence the number of minutes he and Harrison Barnes can soak up as a…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
From the frivolous lawsuit file here at PBT… A Clippers fan is suing he team for $5 million claiming they are spamming his phone with unwanted texts. TMZ got ahold of the lawsuit and has some details. The guy behind the lawsuit is Ari Friedman — who claims he went to a game at Staples…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
In case you needed a good laugh today — Jason Kidd says he is reading the “reports” that reassigned assistant coach Lawrence Frank is writing. That’s what he told the New York Post. “I’ve been reading the reports [Frank is filing], and that’s as far as it’s going.” Riiiight. Now, if it the reports read…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:41 PM EST
That’s bloody brilliant. It’s my new favorite NBA Christmas video. The Bulls had kept the band together to make one more run at a title with Derrick Rose leading them, but when Rose went down that dream was dashed and it was time to talk retooling the roster. You can bet Luol Deng will be…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:08 PM EST
Boston fans felt jilted by Doc Rivers — they thought he would stay with them through the pain of rebuilding, instead he took off for the hot young thing in Los Angeles. Outside Boston few blamed him, in Boston fans felt dumped. Rivers kept saying it was mutual, Celtics fans were having none of it.…
Dec 11, 2013, 11:44 AM EST
.@Paul_George24 and @jtimberlake playing H-O-R-S-E now. Notice coach Vogel and Burke watching in the corner. http://t.co/fThtkA6AXb— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 11, 2013 If you watched the Pacers come-from-behind win over the Heat Tuesday night you probably saw the shots of Justin Timberlake in the crowd. Somehow he was able to swing court side seats, hope…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:49 AM EST
Kyrie Irving just hasn’t been himself this season — his shot has been off and with that the entire Cavaliers offense has been easier to defend. But nothing can help a guy out of a slump like facing the Knicks “defense.” Irving was able to get the rim but the key is he finished —…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:04 AM EST
Paul Pierce returned to the Nets lineup on Tuesday after missing the last four games with a broken bone in his hand. But he wasn’t in his usual spot in the team’s starting lineup. Facing his former Boston Celtics, Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his storied career. And his head…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:31 AM EST
Indiana got the win over Miami on Tuesday, in a game the Pacers talked up a lot more beforehand than the defending champs cared to in advance of an early-December contest. LeBron James brought the intensity early by shutting down Paul George for the game’s first 12 minutes, and scored his first basket of the…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
Kobe Bryant is back on the court for the Lakers — and with a huge contract that will keep him the highest paid player in the NBA for two more seasons after this one. In the latest edition of the PBT podcast myself and Eyton Shander of NBC Sports Radio welcome in Kevin Ding of…
- Report: D.J. Augustin reaches deal with Chicago Bulls 1
- PBT Extra: Talking Pacers win over Heat; Aldridge vs. Howard showdown 8
- Kidd says he is reading Frank’s “reports” as details of Nets coaching mess come public 12
- The Extra Pass: The league’s leading lineups; plus Tuesday’s recaps 9
- Tuesday night NBA Grades: Kobe plays pretty well, Suns’ backcourt plays better 16