USA TODAY Sports
In a candid interview with T.J. Simers Pau Gasol reveals how he feels the team isn't being "maximized", that without change asking for a fresh slate is a "possibility", and much more.
Nothing has been easy for these Los Angeles Lakers as the Summer "favorites" have found themselves as underdogs to even scrape together the opportunity to grace the hardwood when the playoffs begin. With the personnel changes, and coaching change from Mike Brown to Mike D'Antoni, the Lakers have been disastrous while trying to find some semblance of stability and an identity. Going down the list there are plenty of bones to be picked with each player.
Steve Nash is handling the ball less than he's accustomed to. The "post" isn't always cleared out for Dwight Howard and he isn't the number one option. Kobe Bryant is now actively becoming a playmaker more than a shot taker.
Still, Pau Gasol takes the cake in the "strange things are happening to me" montage category as he tries to find his niche with the team.
Whether it's for the best or the worst remains a point of contention, but what is without question is the fact that Gasol is having to make these adjustments against his will. Pau believes he should start and that he should play next to Dwight Howard; that two big men can play side by side and be effective still. T.J. Simers sat down for a cup of coffee with Gasol in New York as the Lakers prepare to play the Brooklyn Nets, and the Spaniard had plenty to say in regards to his current role with the team, his future, and his relationship with Mike D'Antoni. Most telling? When asked if he could see himself dealing with this for another year he called it a "possibility" to ask for a parachute out of Los Angeles. Pau Gasol will be a massive $19,285,850 expiring contract once the 2013-2014 NBA season is under way.
"If this coach stays and Dwight Howard remains with the Lakers," I asked, "what about you?"
"It would be hard for me to deal with another season knowing the facts you just mentioned," said Gasol, 32 and with one year remaining on his contract.
"So do you ask for a fresh start elsewhere?"
"It's a possibility," he said, "yes." - T.J. Simers, L.A. Times
There are a handful of diamonds to dig out of in this mine of an article. Pau Gasol has had to adjust his game dating back to last season when Mike Brown replaced Phil Jackson; the beginning of his descent into becoming a "stretch" big man while he clearly and starkly believes he is most effective in the post. Nearly every other game there's a poke from Pau discussing his need to be in the post and in the game in the fourth quarter.
"I'm fortunate to be doing what I am for a living and being highly rewarded for it," Gasol said. "But it hurts me that this unique opportunity we have with such good players is not being maximized." - T.J. Simers, L.A. Times
"Dwight is a huge presence defensively," said Gasol. "But in a perfect world I'd love to see us dominating as an interior couple, thereby making everything easier for our teammates. - T.J. Simers, L.A. Times
It's clear this deep into the season without any sign of change on the horizon that Mike D'Antoni and Pau Gasol will remain far apart in their philosophies, which was a concern when the hiring of D'Antoni came to fruition. Just a few weeks ago Pau Gasol and Mike D'Antoni had dinner in an attempt to discover common ground. Unfortunately, it appears it wasn't constructive, and they've apparently regressed since then.
"It was an effort on our part to try and come to an understanding," Gasol said. "But I don't think it's translated to an understanding. Nothing significant has happened; it's probably even gone a little backwards." - T.J. Simers, L.A. Times
Whether the two can continue to co-exist (or if they are at all currently) is a serious question. Pau Gasol is noted for his professionalism and putting his head down, but interviews like this very one isn't exactly fast tracking understanding between himself and his coach. This is all without mentioning the "passive aggressive" shots they've been taking at one another.
Pau Gasol on sitting out late in game:"I'm a competitor & think I bring a lot to the table. It's something I don't like & don't appreciate."— Mark Medina (@MedinaLakersNBA) January 30, 2013
To which Mike D'Antoni took it upon himself to respond to.
"Well, you know, 'all for one' didn't last (very) long, did it?" D'Antoni said, sarcastically referencing the Three Musketeers' rallying cry. "Forty-eight-hour shelf life. That's not bad. We'll take what we can get." - Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA
Put it all together and there's a great deal to be made of from Pau Gasol's recent remarks. The fact that he goes as far as to call asking for a fresh start next season is startling, but not surprising. The full article from T.J. Simers has even more substance to bite into. In the meantime, what do you make of Pau's comments?
- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN