It’s universal knowledge that the seven-footer hasn’t been happy with his role on the bench, but the Los Angeles Lakers were hoping that would change. Especially if it proved effective. But while it has proved effective, Gasol still isn’t happy. At all.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Spaniard remains against coming off pine:
Pau Gasol isn’t OK with coming off the bench, and doesn’t see himself embracing it for the long term. But the Lakers’ forward told CBSSports.com Monday he will not request a trade before the Feb. 21 deadline and is committed to the Lakers for the rest of this season.
“Not right now,” Gasol said when asked if he or anyone on his behalf would lodge a trade request before the deadline. “I don’t think now is the time for that step to happen. Right now I’m very focused and committed to our team.”
“It’s hard for anybody who considers himself one of the top players in the world to say, ‘OK, I’m OK with coming off the bench,'” Gasol said. “It’s a difficult situation that we’ve been dealing with here. The last few games have been great, and we’re staying positive and we look forward to that to continue. But at the same time, we don’t need any other distractions, any more negativity. We need positive embracing, we need focus, we need to support each other. That’s where we’re at and that’s where I’m at, too.”
Color. Me. Disgusted.
Not only have the Lakers won consecutive games over the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, but Gasol’s production has skyrocketed since being relegated to the second-unit. Since being moved to the bench against the Miami Heat, Gasol is averaging 16 points per game on 60.7 percent shooting, a far cry from the career-low of 12.9 points on a career-worst 44.9 percent shooting he is averaging on the season.
Does that not mean anything to Gasol? I mean, what does he want the Lakers to do, put him back in the starting lineup where he can’t play center and must jostle for position with his own teammates? Yeah, that makes absolutely no sense.
It makes even less sense that Gasol doesn’t seem to understand that being a part of a superteam requires sacrifice above all. Steve Nash has had to adjust his role to become more of a scorer, Kobe Bryant is now the primary facilitator and Dwight Howard must come to terms with attempting fewer shots. Just like Gasol must accept his bench role, just like he must embrace it.
Yet he hasn’t. He’s done just the opposite. And though he claims he doesn’t want to make waves and he remains committed to this team, why would he address his unhappiness publicly then? I don’t doubt he won’t request a trade this season, nor could I picture the ever passive Gasol demanding to be moved in the near future, but the whining has to stop. It’s both ridiculous and hypocritical.
After Los Angeles’ enormous victory over the Thunder, it was Gasol who was preaching that (via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com) the Lakers must be open to making individual sacrifices:
“I think guys were just worried too much about their own situations and their own issues,” Gasol said bluntly, when asked what has changed since the air-it-out team meeting in Memphis. “When you start doing that, it takes away from the team.
“With the personnel we have, we have to understand that our numbers and our stats are going to be lowered. There’s a certain level of compromise and commitment that we all need to accept. Once we do that, things will work out well.”
How about practicing what you’re preaching, Pau? Or is sacrifice only acceptable when it’s convenient for you?
When playing alongside numerous All-Star, compromises are going to have to be made. Statistics are going to drop and roles are going to be manipulated. Coming off the bench, Gasol has had to sacrifice his spot as a starter, but his statistics are right in line (and some of them better) than his career averages.
Thus, I ask him: Why all the fuss?
The Lakers seem to have found a blueprint for success, yet Gasol is spitting verbal filth all over it. I get that he’s one of the best bigs in the world, but he is not more important than the fate of the team. Had he proved he was capable of being the player the Lakers’ starting lineup needed, then he would have a leg stand on.
But he didn’t, and he doesn’t. Nor will he ever if Los Angeles keeps winning.
So maybe he should take a bit of his own advice, pipe down and do what’s best for the Lakers—come off the bench.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His work can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.