Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
You would think a guy that is the most skilled post-up big man in the league with two championships under his belt would get a little bit of respect. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The day that head coach Mike D’Antoni stepped in for fired coach Mike Brown he has thoroughly disrespected Gasol. At first it started with just benching him in the 4th quarter. Then it got so bad that he forced Pau to come off the bench. Now it’s even worse. Last night he not only came off the bench he also got benched in the 4th quarter. That’s D’Antoni’s way of saying you’re not even the 6th man.
Pau had a few words after the game during an interview:
“It’s a challenge, We’re challenged every day, and I’m challenged every day to keep my calm and keep my peace and not let my emotions take over my words.”
“I think the finishing is more important (than starting), I think the best players should finish off games. That’s just the way it’s got to be. When the game is on the line, you want to be on the floor. That’s more important.”
“It’s fun to win but when a team comes back on you the way the Hornets did tonight and you are not there as a high-quality player and as a competitor, it’s frustrating,”
Mike D’Antoni was very short and sweet with his response to benching Gasol:
“They went small, I couldn’t get Pau back in there because of the lineup change.”
Gasol is averaging career lows across the board. His 12 points a game is 5 points lower than his previous career low. His career averages are 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and 1.7 blocks in 35 minutes a game. This season his averages are 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block in 32 minutes. His field-goal percentage is also at a career low. His career average is 51%, but this season he’s shooting just 47%.
You would think with Pau’s skill-set he would be the featured guy in the post. That is not the case at all. Dwight Howard is the featured man and it’s glaringly obvious he has half the offensive skill-set as Gasol does. Howard is the stronger, more athletic and better defender, but you would think a team that needs its stars to play at a high level they would somehow find a way to make it work.
I don’t think this ends well for both Gasol and the Lakers, specifically D’Antoni. I don’t think you can bench a player with his caliber. If you’re going to do that you might as well trade him and get something back for him. A player with his talent will definitely be able to get them some type of need they have.