Dec 13, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Pau Gasol just does not fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. And it shows.
In years past I’ve defended Gasol because one segment of Lakers fans were unnecessarily harsh on him because he didn’t play like Shaq — but how Gasol played was perfect for the triangle. The Lakers won back-to-back rings because of him, not in spite of him.
But he is a fish out of water in D’Antoni’s offense — he wants the ball in the post and that doesn’t fit. The result is Gasol shooting just 41.7 percent on the season, a career low by a wide margin. He’s playing passively. Look at what Gasol told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times.
“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness,” he said. “When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity….
“This year hasn’t been ideal, certain things are not ideal for me, but that’s not going to change any time soon,” he said.
So what did D’Antoni say?
“I can’t lie to him… Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up,” he said.
D’Antoni’s right. When the Los Angeles Lakers have thrown the ball in the post this season, they have shot just 34.6 percent on their shot attempts, scoring a paltry 0.67 points per possession. (Numbers via Synergy Sports.)
(What the Lakers do well is spot up shots — one in five Lakers attempts is a catch-and-shoot this season and they are hitting 40.1 percent from three and scoring 1.06 points per possession when they do it. Next most shot attempts are in transition, 11.7 percent of the team’s attempts, and the Lakers are shooting 56.8 percent on the break.)
So how is Gasol responding to this criticism?
“I don’t pay attention. Mike is sometimes all over the place, I don’t give much credit to things like that,” he said.
All of this has led to a listless run of play from Gasol, who is not playing with the energy he has in past years.
The Lakers simply need to look at moving Gasol — and Gasol said he would be open to that.
Los Angeles is not going to get back what Lakers’ fans hope — Gasol’s value is down right now and while he is an expiring deal only a limited number of teams want to touch his $19.3 million salary (or have something that size they can send back to the Lakers). All-Stars like Zach Randolph are not coming back to L.A. in a deal.
There is a market for Gasol if he is willing to take a pay cut next season — he is a very skilled big who can get $10 million plus a season for multiple years. He might fit well in Chicago if they amnesty Carlos Boozer. He has said he can picture himself next to his brother in Memphis and that slowed-down, post system could work well for him. There are plenty of other teams.
He sounds like a guy ready to move on, and if he is the Lakers have to see if they can get anything of value for him before it happens. It’s not like moving him is going to keep them from a title run this season.