Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant spoke up for teammate Pau Gasol more than ever before after the Lakers fell to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday without Gasol in the lineup.
Trade speculation has surrounded the four-time All-Star power forward as his role in the Lakers' offense has drastically changed under Mike D'Antoni. Bryant thinks that Gasol needs more touches in the post in order to get him back into the flow of things once he returns from sitting out with knee tendinitis in both knees.
"I want him to dig in and be determined, not discouraged," Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. "We should go to him more on the post because he can dominate from there as he has to the tune of two rings. I'm sure he will adjust and figure out a balance when he comes back healthy."
Gasol's replacement, Antawn Jamison, has flourished in the new system whether he's coming off the bench or starting and it has made Gasol's struggles that much more noticeable. Jamison is more of a tweener, ‘stretch 4' whereas Gasol is comfortable in the high and low posts. But with Dwight Howard on the lowblock in a system that can't really have two post players, Gasol is lost.
"I know his knees have been hurting and that can be frustrating because you can't do physically what you are used to," Bryant said. "I just don't want him to sulk about the change of things."
Gasol is averaging career-lows in points (12.6) and shooting percentage (42%) while grabbing 8.8 rebounds for the 8-10 Lakers.
This story originally appeared at SB Nation.