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Pau Gasol says a trade seems more likely this season after being sent back to the bench

Jan 21, 2013, 11:11 PM EDT

Before the Lakers took the floor in Chicago against the Bulls on Monday, Mike D’Antoni announced that Pau Gasol would be removed from the starting lineup in favor of going small, with Earl Clark getting the minutes at the starting power forward spot.

This decision, D’Antoni told reporters, was not just for one game, but a long-term solution to try to get his system more firmly in place. Efficiency statistics were cited that said when Gasol and Dwight Howard play together, the team ranks near the bottom of the league, but when just one plays, the team’s numbers are much improved.

It may turn out to be the right decision, and it may not. If Gasol plays with the rest of the starters in crunch time, as he did against the Heat when he played the entire fourth quarter after coming off the bench, then it’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of the team’s rotations.

Except for one thing: It is to Gasol.

He was extremely vocal and pointed in his remarks after that Miami game, saying he absolutely wanted to return to the starting lineup. Now that he’s been overridden in this request by the whims of his head coach, Gasol said he feels now more than ever that he may be a part of a deal that sends him out of town before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

Craig Sager reported this early in Thursday night’s TNT telecast, as seen in the video clip above.

“Pau Gasol I talked to before the game,” Sager said. “He is not at all happy with the decision. He says I have never been a role player in my life. I don’t like it right now. I said, what about the possibility that maybe your time with the Lakers could be coming to an end at the All-Star break or the trade deadline? He said it certainly looks like a possibility to me.”

We’ll have to see how Gasol and the team react over the next few games to get a sense of whether or not this was in fact a good decision from a lineup standpoint, or if it was simply a desperate move by a head coach willing to try anything at this point, even if it means alienating one of his tram’s best players.

[Video clip via LakersNation]

  1. mogogo1 - Jan 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    The Gasol situation is just one symptom of the bigger disease, which is the Lakers’ complete dysfunction and lack of direction. Having two quality bigs should be a strength for them, only it’s become a weakness because D’Antoni can’t figure out how to get them work together. They don’t play defense which would spell their doom in the playoffs even if they found a way to make it into them. And the grand plan on offense is to go the whole season outrunning younger teams with a collection of old and tired guys?

  2. dirtyvu - Jan 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    finally, D’Antoni is doing what he should’ve done all along. what Phil Jackson did with Gasol and Bynum. Phil couldn’t get them to perform well together so he stuck Bynum to anchor the second team. And that worked out great. The second unit was barely a dropoff at all. In fact, the second unit would often dominate the second unit of the other team with Bynum and Odom. There not enough room to operate with 2 big men in the middle. It took D’Antoni how long to realize this? I know he was trying to keep Gasol from melting down and crying about it. But he’s being paid so much so you should be able to do whatever you want him to do. For that much money, he could be the waterboy.

  3. kiwi94 - Jan 22, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Dantoni’s throwing all of his eggs in Howard’s basket. He’s playing sides and views Howard as the organization’s highest priority. Anything he can to keep the job next year.

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