Out of necessity, I’ve written about the 32-year-old big man numerous times in the last week. I say “out of necessity” because, well, I mean it.
The Los Angeles Lakers have won three in a row, and are finally playing like a cohesive contender. And they’ve done this with Gasol coming off the bench.
To say Gasol has been less than receptive to such a role would be a gross understatement. Even though heading into Los Angeles’ bout against the New Orleans Hornets he was averaging 16 points on 60.7 percent shooting off the pine, he was visibly unhappy. And his seven points in 21 minuts against the Hornets did nothing to quell such displeasure.
In fact, per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, it merely perpetuated it:
The former four-time All-Star, who recently bristled when moved to a bench role as D’Antoni placed Earl Clark in the starting lineup, expressed his displeasure after the game.
“I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate,” Gasol said.
Gasol had seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 21 minutes as the Lakers built an 83-73 lead through the first three quarters.
“It’s a challenge,” Gasol said when asked about toeing the line and accepting D’Antoni’s decision so that he doesn’t take away from the team while still defending his personal ability. “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.”
My first inclination is to sigh.
As I’ve reiterated before, the success of superteams is predicated upon many things, none more important than sacrifice. Gasol himself has spoken of this sacrifice before and the fact that he seems unwilling to make any compromises is disheartening.
Understandably, Gasol should be playing more than 21 minutes and attempting more than four shots. But there’s room for that to change. He has and he can work off the bench, he just doesn’t seem willing to give it an actual chance. And while he has said he will not request a trade this season, the Lakers are really left with no other options at this point.
Sure, Los Angeles could just hold onto him for the rest of the season, allow him to moan and then deal him over the summer, but his attitude is going to effect his performance, thus diminishing his trade value more than he himself already has. Plus, why should the Lakers pass on the opportunity to acquire some depth that they can, you know, actually utilize?
As long as Gasol remains unhappy, the Lakers aren’t going to be able to reach their full potential. And from what we’ve seen and heard, Gasol’s surly demeanor is unlikely to become sudden jubilance.
That Gasol’s days in Los Angeles are officially numbered.
Yes, you’ve read it before and it’s been disproved before, but unless the Lakers re-insert him into the starting lineup (they won’t) or Gasol’s stance changes (it won’t), the two parties have reached a conflict that only has one viable resolution.
One that culminates in Gasol’s long purported and now inevitable departure.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.