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Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard”

Dec 13, 2013, 7:13 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

This has been evident for a while.

When we had Kevin Ding, the Lakers writer for Bleacher Report, on the PBT Podcast he said Gasol was getting his chance but just was not putting out the effort to take it. He said the frustration with Gasol this year was similar to Dwight Howard last season.

Now a day after Gasol expressed frustration at not being used more in the post D’Antoni fired back saying Gasol just has to try harder, as reported by Ramona Shelburne at

Asked specifically about Gasol’s desire to be used more in the post, where he feels most comfortable and effective, D’Antoni said, “That’s one thing. If they just don’t want to do it that way, then you have to accept it or not. But there’s no reason to not play hard….

“He’ll get through it,” D’Antoni said of Gasol. “The message is the same to everybody: Just play hard, and we’ll figure it out. If you don’t play hard, it’s hard to figure out because you don’t know what works and what doesn’t. I think everybody has the same message, and we keep beating it in during practice. Every film session we show them what we want, and hopefully they’ll do it.”

D’Antoni went on to say if you are collecting a check you should play hard.

For the record, Gasol is getting 36.1 percent of his shot attempts out of post ups, but he is shooting just 35.2 percent on those (via Synergy Sports). If you want more post touches, you got to make the shots or the team has to go with what works.

That said, D’Antoni is a system coach and is not at all strong at fitting his offense around the talent he has. Gasol didn’t forget how to score in the post but he’s not comfortable with the touches he is getting there.

Ding also said in our PBT podcast he had been told there was almost no chance Gasol would be back with the Lakers next season. The only question on that front seems to be if Gasol will leave the Lakers this summer as a free agent or if they trade him before then.

We’ll see if they can work a deal, but it looks at this point like the Lakers would rather get him out of the locker room sooner rather than later.

  1. JHathwell - Dec 13, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    D’ Antoni is a wise man. The guy is paid to do a job and he’s not doing it. At his age and considering his declining skills and production, it’s a bit rich to suggest he be featured more when he’s having pretty much the worst season of his career.

    Anyway, he’ll be gone soon enough. Just would be nice to see a better ending to his LA tenure than this.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 14, 2013 at 6:13 AM

      “The guy is paid to do a job and he’s not doing it.”

      So if they ask Nash to play center and he struggles, that’s Nash’s fault? Most of Pau’s shots come from outside of 8 feet. He’s already taken 98 shots outside of 16 feet (for perspective he only took 69 shots outside of 16 feet for the entire 2009-10 season). That’s not his game. If you can believe it, only 22% of Pau’s shots have come inside the restricted area – that’s less than some point guards. Chris Bosh gets more at-rim attempts than that. Pau isn’t going to magically turn into Dirk Nowitzki just because they really want him to.

      The fact that the Lakers have allowed Pau to get put into this position is really mind boggling to me. Complete incompetence on their part.

      • khadeemw - Dec 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        nice try buddy…he took 102 shots in 65 games from 16-23 feet…the fact of the matter is that he hasnt been playing well when he has gotten the ball….n he hasnt provided any effort on defense….so now he wants to be featured???….hell no…play defense, be efficient with your touches n then youll be “featured”….i never bought into the Pau being soft concept, but i definitely a believer now

      • antistratfordian - Dec 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM

        Wrong. He took 102 shots outside of 16 feet in the regular season and playoffs combined in 2009-10. That wasn’t just in 65 regular season games. In 65 regular season games he only took 69 shots outside of 16 feet.

        I assume you got your number from Basketball-Reference. You should know that they combine the regular season and the playoffs in their shooting splits.

        the fact of the matter is that he hasnt been playing well when he has gotten the ball

        He’s not getting the ball in places where he’s comfortable. That’s the fact of the matter. It’s D’Antoni’s job to maximize the talent on his roster – to put his players in positions to succeed. He’s not doing that. At the moment he has his two best players playing completely out of position.

      • JHathwell - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:23 PM

        I stopped reading after the Steve Nash analogy.

        You really need a new hobby. Your grasp of Basketball is almost non-existent.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        You should’ve kept reading – you need it.

      • JHathwell - Dec 17, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        Some of us live in the real world, and some of us pretend to be “basketball experts” by trolling comment sections by making ridiculous arguments about Kobe Bryant, just hoping someone will pay attention to them.

        Which one do you think you are?

      • antistratfordian - Dec 17, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        I don’t need to hope about anybody paying attention to me. And I am a basketball expert, I don’t need to pretend.

        Kobe’s fans, though, are famously hard headed and delusional. It takes them longer than most fans to figure out what reality is. Some never will. You will end up on the wrong side of history by criticizing my arguments about Kobe.

      • JHathwell - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        Hate to tell you this, but the guy is going down as a top 5-10 player in NBA history. Doesn’t matter how much you hate him. It’s the reality.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        I don’t hate him. His legacy will slide as fans (and people in general) become more sophisticated about the game. There is no way future peoples will be able to look at his inefficiency and be able to justify placing him in the upper pantheon. That’s the reality.

      • JHathwell - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:40 PM

        The biggest handicap with this generation and the stat revolution in Baseball (and by extension Basketball) is the over reliance on the numbers. Stats are just one element of judging performance, and someone like you who obviously places your entire argument on them is missing the point.

        This is allot of why I always tell you that you simply lack intelligence and an understanding of the game. You have to take the broader view of a player, not just bury your head in PER’s and true shooting percentages and the like.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:24 PM

        The biggest handicap with this generation and the stat revolution in Baseball (and by extension Basketball) is the over reliance on the numbers.

        You’re starting off on the wrong foot. There is no need to be so closed minded.

        All of us – at least my age – have approached the game for a long time from the traditional perspective. It went unchanged and unchallenged for decades. But thinking evolves, research reveals, technology assists, understanding changes – not just with sports, but with nearly everything. And we’ve found a better way. The things you see a lot of analysts and fans talking about today – years ago just known as some obscure thing called “advanced metrics” that no one took seriously – some of them will be your everyday statistics in the future.

        That is inevitable.

        Now, no one is saying anyone is basing EVERYTHING off of numbers. I played the game – I know that an impact can be made without logging any statistic at all. And we still have difficulty quantifying true defensive impact – as well as other nebulous things like heart and will to win, etc. But the statistical foundation right now is stronger than it has ever been, and that is a fantastic thing! Dismissing it, or ignoring it, is ridiculous.

        When it comes to Kobe, his statistical foundation when it comes to efficiency is just weaker compared to other greats, so he just starts off at a major disadvantage. He doesn’t make up the difference with defense or “heart” or “will” either – because the men he’s up against have equal or superior qualities in that regard.

        This will not be decided here between us – future peoples are responsible for that. But I see the direction the game is headed (you see it too) and I’m obviously completely confident in my appraisal.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:56 AM

      he is so smart he benched the Pau when he first got to LA, he has shown no interest in using
      a center with a great passing ability and made numerous verbal attacks on the player while trying to justify his use of Pau.
      maybe it has been forgotten but Pau has 2 championship rings, D’Antoni still has none!

      • JHathwell - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:26 PM

        Eh, maybe you should read into why Pau was benched last year.

        Anyway, no matter what excuses people want to make, Pau has been in steep decline for years now. When a guy is having the worst year of his career he’s not really in position to complain or point fingers. He’s making almost 20m and he’s not coming close to earning it. Stop pouting and play ball.

    • muhangis - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      I have always loved and been a fan of Pau but it’s time to trade him, if you can get whatever for him. Pau is way, way too soft on defense and it’s hurting the team. Offensively, he’s not the same player he once was. D’Antoni is completely right in his statement. Pau Gasol just seems not to be playing hard (maybe it’s cause of the fact that he’s got the RINGS he wants, and already made all the money he could dream of.) Along with the fact that he is aging.

      He just seems to have no motivation on the court at all. Gasol is a great guy, and I love him for what he’s done years past for the team, being a Lakers fan…. yet the run is done. Gasol seems to need a fresh start somewhere else, at his age I think he can still contribute something, but for a different team.

      • JHathwell - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        Agree completely. All of these people defending him now may or may not know that Pau has always been every bit as much a face-up guy or a high post guy as anything else. In fact, I’m sure allot of Laker fans chuckled at his “I wanna bang bodies!” comment, since that was never exactly his forte.

        Bottom line, you have to do what is needed. If the offense requires him to face up or spot up, there’s no way you can convince me Pau isn’t capable of that since I’ve seen him drain face up mid-range jumpers for 15 years or whatever.

        Instead, he pouts, and it affects his game. The irony of course is the worse he plays, the less he’ll make this summer. If he wants to get paid or go somewhere else, it would behoove of him to play well.

        Of course, his heart just might not be in hoops anymore. Might be time to move on to med school.

  2. antistratfordian - Dec 13, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    D’Antoni is too stubborn. “We’re not great in the post, so we should avoid the post.” Well, how about fixing the post problem instead of ignoring it? Pau Gasol is proven down there – he won multiple championships taking 66% of his shots in the post (it’s at 44% now). Pau Gasol is not the problem.

    The one guy in this discussion who is not a proven champion is D’Antoni. Maybe he should listen to Gasol instead of blowing him off and continuing down the same path.

    Also, just saying “just play hard” doesn’t work. His guys need to believe in the system for them to play hard – they’re not buying in – and why should they?

    • shanelsweet - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:10 AM

      It must be hard to get quality touches when Kobe is your new PG.

      • shanelsweet - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        I knew my comment would be disliked because it could be perceived as anti-Kobe, but by a 4 to 1 margin? Aren’t there any folks on here who’ve actually played basketball enough to understand that a center needs a good point guard to deliver him the ball the way he likes it? Bouncing a ball off a guy’s butt for an assist may look pretty, but it’s not the preferred method. Kobe isn’t going to be able to help them win until Nash or Blake or some other PG starts.

    • mytthor - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:43 AM

      Because his system revolutionized the way basketball is played this decade and the last. Every team that has won a championship in the last 30 years that wasn’t coached by Phil Jackson ran heavy P&R action. And the last 2 laker titles were largely built around Kobe-Gasol pick and rolls or Gasol-Odom-Bynum in some combination going high-low.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 14, 2013 at 4:04 AM

        “Revolutionized” is the wrong word. It’s a system that – even when it was run by ideal players in their primes – still wasn’t enough to produce even a finals appearance, let alone a ring. So why would championship players (Gasol specifically) buy in to this system when they’ve won rings doing almost the opposite? There is no incentive for them to do that – but there are all sorts of good reasons to want to force some sort of change.

      • mytthor - Dec 16, 2013 at 2:34 AM

        D’Antoni’s actual teams didn’t make the Finals, though there were a couple that surely could have, given a couple balls bouncing another way. But both the Heat and the Spurs championship teams’ offenses owe a lot to some of D’Antoni’s concepts that shaped those Suns teams.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:56 PM

        Could have? No, I don’t believe so. His system has a fatal flaw that his ego won’t allow him to acknowledge.

        The Heat do not owe “a lot” to some of D’Antoni’s concepts. They run almost the exact opposite of a D’Antoni offense. At least, the defining characteristics of D’Antoni’s offenses – a very fast pace and plenty of early perimeter shots – can hardly be detected in Miami’s offense.

    • alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:28 AM

      Most players have bought into the system, as shown by their career years. Everyone seems to enjoy playing and have finally capitalized on the talent…. Everyone except Pau. I watched videos of vintage Pau, and many of the sets were P&R action w/Kobe and Pau where Pau rolled hard to the basket, which ended up in easy baskets. If not a layup, they swung the ball to give Gasol the ball in the post. MDA has mentioned that Pau has to roll to the basket… Why isn’t Pau doing so though? He always pops for a shot! And MDA is right when he says the #’s prove the post isn’t good for the squad…. Pau is shooting an awful 36% clip in the post… 36%!!! Why in the world would I give Pau the ball in the post if he can’t give me easy points in there anymore? I just don’t get Gasol anymore…. His energy is gone on both sides of the ball. He’s clearly dogging it when the rest of the team is trying their best every play.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:43 AM

        The only way you can play in that system and enjoy it while losing is if you just care about getting a ton of shots up. Of course Nick Young and Kobe love the system! Kobe is all for it, obviously, that’s why he wanted D’Antoni in the first place.

        Pau’s priorities are different. Pau wants to do common sense things that most of us would do – play to the team’s strengths. Build a system that fits the personnel. This team cannot expect to run D’Antoni’s system, or even a reduced hybrid of it, with any success.

        But Mike D’Antoni is too proud to admit that everything he’s believed in for so long isn’t going to work. He’s going to go from team to team trying to force his system onto players that don’t fit – keep getting fired – and retire a bitter, old coach.

      • alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        This is @ antistratfordian (idk how to reply to your latest comment, but hopefully it stays within these few posts)… I’m not sure you’d call Steve Blake and Farmar scoring PG’s right? Because they, alongside Jordan Hill, Meeks, Young, and if I’m not mistaken, Henry, are having their best years based on PER (even without PER, you’d say all those players are having career years). Young has actually tried to play defense! What more effort do you want from Swaggy P? Haha.

        As for Pau and the whole, “you can’t run MDA’s offense with this Laker squad”, actually, you can IMHO. They have the primary big (Pau) who is essentially in charge of most P&R action. That same big gets all touches in the post or high post. You space the floor with shooters which Lakers now have, and there’s his offense. The misconception is that MDA wants to run like in Phoenix (which isn’t true). What he wants is P&R action and the offense in place early on to either get a quick shot while the defense is setting up, or have ample time to get a good shot. It’s not about “getting a ton of shots up”.

      • alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        And as for MDA being stubborn, I agree he was early on last year. However, he molded the offense for Howard and Gasol by playing the HORNS set, which worked wonders late last year and this year as well. It gives Pau the ball to become the playmaker, which he is good at (playing to strengths). Also, Pau is good around the rim, and MDA has said that Pau should roll to the rim like Jordan Hill does, and how Pau used to do during those title runs (it wasn’t all post ups).

  3. JHathwell - Dec 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Because the team hired him to coach his style, not to appease an aging PF who makes more than he’s worth. Like it or not, it was Jerry Buss’ dying wish to get back to showtime. They hired the coach who gives them the best chance to do that. Pau isn’t part of the future program.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:55 AM

      Well, I’m sorry but you can’t allow your business to be run by dead men – they’re not around to properly evaluate conditions.

      Plus, “Showtime” still featured a 7 footer in the post.

  4. brookwell2013 - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    I’ve watched most of the Laker games this year and it looks to me that Pau is struggling at times getting up and down the court. I don’t think he’s 100% recovered from the knee surgeries he had over the summer; just doesn’t look right to me. Fellas, we’ve all seen this before: they move him and he ends up getting a couple more rings somewhere else. I still think he has it in him. As for D’Antoni he’s never won anything, anywhere ever. That’ll never change.

    • JHathwell - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      Just another lazy narrative being repeated by people who don’t know what they are talking about. Do a little research abut that Suns team and you might have a firmer understanding of just how close they were to a ttitle and how a bogus rule basically stole one from them. And while you’re at it, do some looking into their draft picks around that time, what happened to them, and why.

  5. northstarnic - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    What is it with basketball players and the lazy, entitled attitudes that permeate the culture of the NBA?

  6. a0kalittlema0n - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    If you spent any time watching Lakers games you’d know that the players DO buy into the system and play it we’ll for the talent they have, it’s only Pau that isn’t buying into it.

    Also why would they spend more time doing things their team isn’t good at. I understand Pau used to be great in the post but truth is he hasn’t done well in the post at all this season. That would be a terrible coaching move (especially for D’Antoni who wouldn’t know how to coach the post).

    He said play hard because Pau literally watches players drive on him while he’s standing in the paint, complaining about everything as soon as he misses/turns over the ball and he isn’t playing half as hard as any of the other PFs/Cs. Why else would Sacre be playing? (I like him for the record).

    I think Kaman plays harder than Pau, has close to the exact same skill set and doesn’t complain or demand to be a focal point of the offense, especially when he is ineffective, lazy, and persistently injured. Put him in.

    • alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      Perfect summary. I missed Kaman playing last night, but early in the season, at least Kaman blocked shots and was efficient in the post (high and low).

  7. braven4evr - Dec 13, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Shannahan in Washington, Dantoni in LA same problem wrong coach for the talent on hand.

    you have to have the talent for showtime and this Lakers team doesn’t have it. Only person to say Buss Sr wanted showtime and not another trophy is lil Buss!

  8. dinofrank60 - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    He doesn’t trust you, Mike. He doesn’t think that you’re asking him to do the things he can do well.
    The Lakers should’ve traded him, but I bet they were holding out for that devastating Gasol-Nash combo.

    D’Antoni has a style of playing. Fine, then get him the players that make this style work and stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

    • mytthor - Dec 14, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      All he asked him to do was play hard. You can get post touches out of D’Antoni’s offense, it just comes on a hard dive out of the p&r. But Pau chooses to fade every time, then gets pissed when he’s shooting all jumpers.

      • dinofrank60 - Dec 14, 2013 at 3:14 AM

        Then don’t play him; if he’s not playing hard, then sit him down. It’s obvious that Gasol isn’t buying in. Give that time to someone else.

        If D’antoni’s done all he can and Gasol doesn’t trust him there’s nothing more Mike can do.

      • alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:31 AM

        Finally someone else sees this!! A hard roll to the rim creates a pseudo post-up like sets run for Howard last hear. If Gasol’s energy is awful, I’d bench him. Then again, maybe they’re still playing him to raise or keep his value the same to deal him, OR quietly tank (since the interior defense is nonexistent when Pau plays haha)

  9. babyfarkmcgeezax - Dec 14, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    Bleacher Report? Child, please. Was the writer some random high school kid with a “5 reasons the Lakers won’t make the playoffs” BS slideshow piece created solely for Google bombing and generating page hits? Even Fox News has more credibility than Bleacher Report.

    • alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:17 AM

      Bleacher Report actually went out and got 3 established writers in Kevin Ding (Lakers beat reporter for OC Register previously), Howard Beck, and Zwerling. So even though Bleacher Report has that bad rep, Ding is very plugged into the Lakers. He knows what he’s talking about. And if your comment was sarcasm, sorry! Haha

  10. Fantasy Football Consultant - Dec 14, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    They both need to go and we should trade for Lowry

  11. alqj24 - Dec 14, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    Pau needs to simply be better in the post. Even though people are saying MDA sucks and Pau won 2 titles playing in the post, those days are gone. This year Pau just won’t play with energy. His body is failing him and he seemingly doesn’t work enough to combat that like Duncan did to extend his career. The guy won’t jump for his life for a rebound, and he refuses to rotate on defense. When Pau ends up in the post, he’s shooting about 36% on shots there…. How can he demand the ball in the post when he’s struggling so much (1st touch in the post vs OKC says it all about Gasol)? And MDA has mentioned many times to roll to the basket (which could end up as a post up if he rolls), but Pau chooses to pop for a shot… His contributions were amazing and appreciated, he’s a HOF, he needs his # retired in the Staples’ rafters, but it’s time for both parties to move on. Gasol is becoming a Dwight like cancer. If he just played hard instead of sucking the energy out of the squad, things would be different.

  12. davidly - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    MD’A has driven the Lakers’ Legacy Tour Buss and proved to all the naysayers that he can get the Lakers playing an up-tempo game again and boy are they out of the gate like gangbusters. Once Bryant is in game-shape and Nash gets back, they’re gonna run the competition out of the arena at a pace of a gazillion possessions a minute!

    On another note: Gasol is a true talent; his championship-level highlights came to a once-and-for-all punctuated end, however, with a pound to the chest from PJ. The org’s best chance at glory in the Kobe era would have been to take that same team with Shaw and try to get back one more time–at least that’s the message the Commish seemed to deliver to them when he nixed the CP3 deal.

    This is a team in the middle of a transition the likes it hasn’t seen in half a century. Bryant knows it too; he just wants to finish on the court. I doubt he finished out his contract.

    • davidly - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      paragraph one: sarcasm
      paragraph two: irony
      paragraph three: summarized perception and a grammatical error

  13. progress2011 - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:03 AM


    Just say “I DON’T WANT TO PLAY HERE NO MORE” !!!

  14. savvybynature - Dec 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Pau seems like a good person, but his lack of effort isn’t a new problem, it was just overshadowed last season by the Howard drama.
    During the Spurs series he rarely made an effort to get back in transition and left his teammates out to dry repeatedly. A 36-year-old Tim Duncan was practically running laps around him.
    Unless he changes his approach or they start a half-court league, he’s done as a meaningful contributor imo.

  15. 24thesho - Dec 15, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    Ever since P.Gasol’s performance in the last game Phil Jackson ever coached (along with A. Bynum’s antics), he has been a no show most of the time. Of course when he played with Spain’s national team in the Olympics he was a much different player. D’Antoni’s unproven offensive schemes are no better; not sure what the deal was when Gasol and Howard were on the Lakers but clearly D’Antoni did not respect Gasol’s talent nor his past contributions to the Lakers 2 prior world championships. Clearly, D’Antoni is owed some personal favors because I can’t for the life of me understand how he continues to land these coaching jobs; with the Lakers, no less. He, D’Antoni is the “cancer”; his attitude, his philosophy, even his voice. He is a terrible coach and still has not figured out that “defense” needs to omnipresent in order to become a championship caliber team. Get rid of this guy, for the sake of the N.B.A. Hire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the remainder of the season. I meant, you take a chance on D’Antoni but not on Kareem?!?? Not that Mr. Jabbar is even on the map as far as coaching rumors but he, Mr. Jabbar, has to be better and more inspiring that this fool.

  16. pistolpete0903 - Dec 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    D’Antoni’s success at Phoenix came with an explosive Amare running quite a bit of pick-n-roll w/Nash (and Nash was good at getting him the ball).
    Pau isn’t a good pick-n-roll player; he likes the ball in the low post.
    This is case of the player not fitting in the coaches’ system. Having said that, it shouldn’t be an excuse for both Antoni and Pau to continue their stalemate. As someone said before, Antoni has to use Pau’s passing ability. As for Pau, he has to play more of a center role.
    O’ well what would be the Laker’s with out any drama.
    My money is on Pau getting traded before the deadline. I can see a contender looking to go after Gasol. Going out on a limb here, I am thinking it would be Houston (gives Asik (and a pick). The question is would the Lakers take on the $15mil owed to Asik in 2015.
    Should be interesting to watch how it turns out.

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