If and when Dwight Howard feels healthy again this season, Pau Gasol will return to the bench. Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni’s controversial decision to remove him from the starting lineup continues to eat away at Gasol, but he maintains an air of ultimate professionalism throughout the saga..
Looking ahead, Pau Gasol admits that the Lakers might no longer be the right fit for him and his basketball career. Gasol tells the LA Times that he could see himself playing elsewhere, largely due to the reduced role D’Antoni wants him to embrace:
The coach and player met at a Manhattan Beach restaurant a few weeks back, and most folks were left with the impression they had a meeting of minds. “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.”
“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.” He will not request a trade before this month’s deadline, he said, although he knows there is interest from other teams for a starting center and he will be returning to the bench soon. [...] As dominant as Gasol was in the Olympics and as highly regarded as he is in the NBA, he said there have been times when he has felt disrespected by D’Antoni. “But I’m not going to let it affect me. In a way he’s 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.
Much like Kobe Bryant, Gasol is of the opinion that the Lakers would be better off if he played alongside Dwight Howard, but D’Antoni clearly disagrees (and, most crucially, seems to have management’s support.)
The front-office has also gone on the record and said that major roster changes aren’t likely to take place this season. The team as presently constructed — in all its injury-riddled, unhappy and losing turmoil — will continue to trudge forward.