Pau Gasol May Ask To Be Traded If Lakers Retain D’Antoni, Howard

Pau Gasol May Ask To Be Traded If Lakers Retain D’Antoni, Howard


NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver NuggetsIn a recent sit-down interview with Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers asked some very pointed questions which gave insight to Gasol’s future with the team should the situation surrounding him not change.

If you haven’t been following the recent background drama surrounding the Lakers, Pau Gasol is upset about having his starting position taken away from him, and also being benched numerous times in crunch time situations this season.

Simers: “If this coach stays and Dwight Howard remains with the Lakers, what about you?”

Gasol: “It would be hard to me to deal with another season knowing the facts you just mentioned.”

Simers: “So do you ask for a fresh start elsewhere?”

Gasol: “It’s a possibility, yes.”

Gasol went on to say that he wouldn’t request a trade this season, and that he’s committed to this team right now:

“I’m not a quitter. Just because things look better on the other side of the fence, I’m not going to take the easy way out. I have a certain level of loyalty, and I’ve been through a lot of great, amazing things. And there have been others that have been hurtful. But that’s life.”

When given the opportunity to put down Mike D’Antoni for misusing him in his system, Gasol refused to do so:

“He has his philosphy and system, and the Lakers hired him. It’s not his fault. His philosophy is to play with one big guy and four guys spread out, so then he had to make a decision: Dwight or Pau?”

Simers went on to deduce that the decision was quite easy for the coach because the Lakers are trying to appease Dwight Howard so he’ll return next season, to which Gasol replied, “That is correct.”

Gasol isn’t blaming Howard either, though, as he truly believes the two can flourish together:

“Dwight is a huge presence defensively. But in a perfect world I’d love to see us dominating as an interior couple, thereby making everything easier for our teammates.”

“I’m always trying to pass to Dwight to get him going. He hasn’t been very effective from the post, so I want to give him easy shots and get him into rhythm. You know he’s going to get fouled and then he’ll make one out of two.”

“Nothing is going to change, but I have no doubt we could coexist and dominate every single game. I believe 100% if I was starting inside with Dwight we could make the playoffs. I just don’t know if coming off the bench gives the team a chance to be better and win more games.”

I have to agree with Gasol a bit here. Earlier this season I wrote an article on how Pau Gasol should definitely be featured down in the post more by himself as a center, but should also remain a starter. Additionally, Gasol should be able to play significant minutes at the power forward position alongside Howard if the team is to truly be most effective and successful.

I then conceded that with Earl Clark’s emergence, perhaps it would be better if Clark started games, but Gasol was still necessary for the Lakers in crunch time situations because of his elite half-court presence.NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves

However, it’s clear that Mike D’Antoni has an issue at the center position because he sorely needs Dwight Howard’s defensive presence, but Pau Gasol’s offensive presence as well.

In the same breath, with opposing teams playing the “small ball” style of basketball in which Mike D’Antoni largely pioneered (at least in recent history) and promoted, it places him in a tough position because it’s a style of play he believes the team can truly be the most effective with.

To Gasol’s credit, even though it’s been a small sample size, during the three games in which Dwight Howard recently sat out, Gasol averaged 20.0 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Pau hasn’t lost his confidence, though, and manages to put it all into perspective:

“I’m fortunate to be doing what I am for a living and being highly rewarded for it. But if hurts me that this unique opportunity we have with such good players is not being maximized.”

“But I’m not going to let it affect me. In a way he’s (D’Antoni) messing with my season, but not my career. I know what I’ve accomplished and I still feel like I’m one of the best players in the world.”

Regardless, the situation remains that Pau Gasol isn’t happy with his current role on the team and feels that he can be much more effective with significant minutes alongside Dwight Howard–even noting how he flourished alongside his brother, center Marc Gasol, in the London Olympics while playing for the Spanish national team. Not to mention that he had a relatively successful individual season last year playing alongside center Andrew Bynum (while averaging 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds).

Obviously, the Lakers didn’t make it far in the playoffs last season, and had previously been successful in the playoffs by utilizing Gasol at the center position and Lamar Odom at the power forward slot, while Andrew Bynum often sat out finishes of games. In that sense, even Phil Jackson opted for a smaller, more versatile lineup down the stretch of ballgames as opposed to a “twin towers” look.

The Lakers are unlikely to trade Gasol this season in fear of Dwight Howard leaving the team via free agency over the summer, which would essentially leave the Lakers with no elite big man. However, if Howard returns and D’Antoni continues to use Gasol in a manner that doesn’t allow him to be most effective in his eyes, it appears as though Pau may finally be ready to request a trade from the Lakers.

After being almost dealt for Chris Paul prior to last season, continually being involved in heavy trade rumors throughout the same season to the point that it affected his level of play and still being the number one talked about trade-bait, I honestly can’t blame him if he does.

  • hookedonnews

    I’m really tired of his attitude. Has he not noticed that he’s been less than 100% most of the season? He is on the downside of his career. Did you hear Steve Nash whining when Kobe started facilitating? I don’t know why he’s complaining. He plays with Howard on the floor at times. D’Antoni is trying to do what’s best for the team. You never know how it’s all going to shake out, but he has poisoned the atmosphere with his continual moaning about not starting. He wants to play in the post. As long as Howard is there that’s only going to happen if he’s coming off the bench. Howard is the future. He’s the past. He’s still a very good player, but no one needs a negative presence undermining the coach. He fails to finish at the rim a disturbing number of times, and his shooting overall is erratic. Dwight Howard may decide not to stay in LA. If that happens, all this drama is for nothing. Why can’t everyone be like Steve Nash? Just heard Gasol is going to be out for 6 weeks. Guess he’ll have plenty of time to think about his future.

    • Sonmer

      Steve is a classy guy, hope’s he gets a ring. He deserved it.

    • JohnC

      Maybe the negative presence here is the coach, whose system is the worst possible for LA; D’Antoni and his system are not just sacrifying Pau… they’re sacryfing the whole season of LA. And it is normal that players hate that, and even more when there is a need for solutions and the coach brings none: as most players and coaches say, the players build the system, not the other way round. And regarding Pau’s misses at the rim… well, the few times Gasol has been the starter center, both his numbers and the team record say the opposite. Not too bad for a player who’s been playing under pain since the beginning of the season. This is just crazy: is Pau the origin of the problems in LA? The scape-goat argument is just ridiculous.

      • hookedonnews

        I don’t think anyone believes Pau has been the problem this season. Injuries, a lack of time together, and egos are the reason for the lack of success. The team seems to be coming together now. I don’t believe D’Antoni or his system are the problem. They may be a problem for Pau because he wants to start and puts his desires above the team. If you are watching the games you know that Gasol misses a lot of shots at the rim. That’s just a fact. His FT shooting has also deteriorated. None of this matters now because Pau is out and probably won’t be back anytime soon. D’Antoni has adjusted his system. Don’t believe everything you read. The same things being repeated over and over don’t make them true. If you’ll listen to what he and the other coaches are saying you will have a better idea of what’s going on with this team. Most pundits show an astonishing amount of ignorance about what’s really going on. This team can win with D’Antoni if they’ll play as a team and stop worrying about their egos. That’s what great players do,.