Mike D'Antoni held a team meeting prior to the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. D'Antoni asked players to go directly to him with any issues they may have on the team instead of feeding media quotes expressing their frustrations, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
More on Pau
More on Pau
The meeting follows up comments from Pau Gasol that singled out D'Antoni's philosophies on offense as the source of his struggles. Gasol told media that he needed the ball in the low-post area to be effective and stated he loses his "aggressiveness" when he doesn't have shot opportunities around the rim.
D'Antoni responded to the comments by questioning Gasol's effort to play within the team's system. He called Gasol's comments an "easy excuse not to play hard."
This isn't new territory for D'Antoni and Gasol, who went through similar issues last season. D'Antoni repeatedly benched Gasol during fourth quarters and even played him off the bench while the team struggled. Gasol repeatedly voiced his displeasure in post-game remarks and interviews, and even told Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers that asking for a fresh start wouldn't be out of question if things did not improve for him in Los Angeles.
Gasol's $19 million contract will expire this summer, but his future with the franchise remains uncertain. The Lakers have not discussed a contract extension with the big man and "sources" indicate the team will consider trading him prior to the February deadline unless he improves both on and off the court.
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