The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling – Paul Gasol is no exception. The four-time All-Star is averaging 14.4 points on a career low 41.7 percent shooting. He is allowing several frontcourt players to post career high scoring numbers, such as Toronto’s Amir Johnson (32 points), New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (32), Washington’s Nene (30) and Denver’s Timofey Mozgov (23). His lack of execution on both sides of the floor, combined with his tension filled relationship with coach Mike D’Antoni has forced the Lakers to bring up the possibility of shipping the 33-year-old off.
Gasol's frustrations, impending free agency, struggles offensively & particularly defensively have forced the team to consider its options
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 14, 2013
Shelburne, however, did also point out that the Lakers have yet to engage in trade talks. Los Angeles may even be open to resigning Gasol.
Comments Gasol made on Thursday caused some attention due to the controversial nature of what he said:
“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “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.
D’Antoni responded to those comments:
“I can’t lie to him… Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up,” he said.
The coach is correct. When the Lakers have opted for the ball in the post this season, they are shooting just 34.6 percent.
Gasol reacted to the 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.
After subtle shots in the media back and forth, Kobe Bryant finally weighed in on the matter:
“They’re like an old couple,” he said. “It’s every year, It’s not really anything new.”
D’Antoni had also reportedly recently called a team meeting, encouraging Gasol or anyone else who had an issue with his coaching to speak with him directly.
Gasol is in the final year of his contract that pays him $19.3 million. The Lakers, however, seem to be falling out of favor with the power forward who helped guide them to consecutive NBA titles. He already stated that he would be opened to signing with the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason, a move that would team him with his brother, Marc Gasol. Los Angeles’s style of play just does not fit the Spaniard. Gasol wants to post up – D’Antoni isn’t interested.
Memphis’s slow pace of play would better fit Gasol. The Chicago Bulls, if they amnesty Carlos Boozer, are another possible destination in the offseason. Yet, the Lakers are wise to begin to explore the option now. Gasol or no Gasol, there will be no championship trophy hoisted by the Lakers this season.