In two outings since returning from his 15-game absence, Pau Gasol has come off the San Antonio Spurs’ bench. While this is subject to change, head coach Gregg Popovich appears more inclined to roll with a LaMarcus Aldridge-Dewayne Dedmon frontcourt moving forward.
And Gasol is totally cool with that, per the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald:
The Spurs gave Gasol a two-year, $31.6 million deal last summer to replace the retired Tim Duncan in the starting five. Including the final two games of the rodeo trip, Gasol has come off the bench in only 15 of his 1,211 career appearances, regular season or playoffs. “We’re just trying to be the best team that we can, and Pop is doing a good job of putting (out) the best lineups and also maximizing everyone’s talents,” said Gasol, who has totaled 31 points and 18 rebounds in two games as a reserve. “I want to be real mature about this and really wise, and understand what’s best for the team, not only what’s best for me.”
Aldridge and Dedmon make for a more dynamic offense-defense pairing. Where the Spurs struggled to become a net plus with both Aldridge and Gasol on the floor, they are outscoring opponents by 9.3 points per 100 possessions with the Aldridge-Dedmon combo, posting a defensive rating that is worlds better than their already league-leading mark, according to NBA.com.
David Lee and Gasol, meanwhile, are notching almost the exact same net rating (plus-9.0) when they share the court, and they’re not a collective defensive liability when facing second-stringers.
With the Spurs focused on controlling the pace and locking down defensively more than they are trying to score a bunch of points, this is a good move—one that arguably makes them that much more dangerous come playoff time.