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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am  |  95 responses

Pau Gasol Moved to the Bench Permanently By Mike D’Antoni


by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

Unable to figure out how to effectively and simultaneously use both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in his system, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni demoted Gasol to the bench.

The result was the same last night in Chicago, as the Bulls handed the Lakers their third consecutive loss.

When asked about the move prior to the game, Pau Gasol said he disagreed with it, and admitted that his time in Los Angeles may soon be coming to an end. Following the loss, Gasol walked back some of his anger (after posting 15 points and 12 boards), and said the Lakers have much bigger concerns than just his reduced role.

Per the OC Register:

Pau Gasol is being removed as Lakers’ starting power forward in favor of Earl Clark, and not on a temporary basis, D’Antoni said before the 17-23 Lakers played in Chicago on Monday night. “We just have to do that,” D’Antoni said. Said Gasol after he didn’t start and the Lakers dropped to 17-24: “I’m not excited about it. … But right now I’m more worried about us as a team and us struggling, and it’d be selfish of me to talk about something I feel in particular.”

“We’re better when we’re small,” said D’Antoni, whose system is based in having four players on the perimeter and only one center in the post. [...] D’Antoni is determined now to stick with his style of small ball, saying: “You can’t keep going back and forth and guessing.” He already spoke to Gasol about the move and said about that conversation: “That’s life. He understands. You have to have an identity,” D’Antoni said. “And you have to create an identity.”

With the February 21 trade deadline looming, the Lakers will have a tough time moving Gasol — he’s the 9th highest paid player in the NBA this season (at $19 million), and the team isn’t interested in taking on any more long-term salaries.

The nightmare in Lakerland continues.

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  • pippenainteasy

    This is the season that tests whether you’re a bandwagoner or a true fan of this LA franchise.

  • Max

    Totally what a bandwagoner would say.

  • Junkie

    D’antoni has never been able to utilize a lineup with two bigs. It happened with STAT and Shaq in Phoenix and again in New York with STAT and Tyson. Now it’s happening again with Dwight and Pau.

  • Niio

    Wow such a waste, I love Pau’s game I hope he ends up somewhere he’s appreciated

  • spit hot fiyah

    might as well shoot the little confidence that pau has left with a shotgun

  • DA_Artist

    Pau is the best IQ big man in the league so far. He’s underrated for his coach. He deserve to play in a better team, where the people around him could apreciate what he does best: Play Basketball in a power forward-center posicion.

  • pposse

    why would you want to play small ball when you have two legit bigs, kobe, and metta world peace?? All of those guys are considered ‘big’ at their position and yet the offensive ‘genius’ D’antoni wants to play small ball?! This guy is completely out of his mind. And the capper, you want to start Earl Clark over Antwan Jamison?! D’Antoni is beyond horrid as a coach.

    Before the Lakers just sucked all around on defense, now if you guys have noticed they only scored 90 against the Heat and 83 against the Bulls. Dwight Howard shot like what, 5 shots??! This team sucks right now..that’s the coaches fault.

  • gusisit

    earl clarks playing better, play him

  • Guest

    Stating the obvious, but this is REALLY not going to end well……

  • Guest

    I mean, I get that you have a SYSTEM, but surely if you don’t have the right players for it, you have to adjust. You can’t play run and gun if you have one of the slowest team in the League

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    They need to sit Dwight and let his shoulder get right and start Pau at center. He would be fine in that role, but he can’t be Shawn Marion in D’Antoni’s system.

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    Actually, Stat and Shaq put up outstanding numbers, particularly Amare, under D’Antoni for the one season they were together under him. The next year they did fine as well, but Nash struggled because D’Antoni left and Terry Porter played slower.

  • Max

    Earl Clark has played better than Antawn, but yeah this team sucks.

  • Junkie

    That’s true, I remember all the records Shaq was breaking when he was in Phoenix too. But watching them it seemed like they never synergized well, a lot of people will say that it’s because of STAT’s inability to mesh with another post big (even in NY), but history is repeating itself with Gasol and Dwight

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    He’s doing really well off the bench at least, but yeah. LA needs to put him out of his misery. He’s a very important piece that’s been treated like sh*t by management.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    I still don’t understand why they would bring in a coach that doesn’t fit the roster they have. Jim Buss, Jerry Buss, whoever made the decision to go with D’Antoni. Bad move. A team that has Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will most likely not be in the playoffs and if they are, they’ll be done in Round 1. There’s not a reason why a healthy Pau Gasol should come off the bench and I’m glad he’s speaking up and letting it be known that he doesn’t like it and won’t like it. He knows he’s still capable of producing All-Star numbers. Makes absolutely no sense at all. Why is Dwight Howard shooting the ball 5 times in a game he plays 30 minutes in? Common sense should have said after Dwight was acquired that you go out and find a coach with a system that fits he and Gasol along with Kobe and Nash. This isn’t on Kobe. It’s not even really on D’Antoni. It’s on the man or men who hired him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Yeah, really. Everyone seems to be on completely different wavelengths. Kobe and Pau prefer the slower, post-em-up style (with Kobe expressing optimism at using Pau more in the post), while D’Antoni and Nash prefer extreme ball movement and a faster pace. And that’s fine and all, but the Lakers aren’t beating any team down the floor after a bucket outside of maybe the Celtics. This is just a wierd mesh of talent and coaching.

  • Redd

    I agree, D’Antoni was a bad hire, I feel Phil would have been too.

  • pposse

    Earl Clark probably has been playing better than Antwan, but my whole thing is that the last thing you want are two veterans on the bench vying for the same minutes.

    everything that is happening down there is counterproductive. For example, Steve Nash..he’s cool and knows D’Antoni’s ‘system’ but why base an offense around a guy that makes 6 million in the season, who is 39 yrs old, when you have Kobe (a guy you paying near 25 million if not more to) and another guy in Dwight Howard whom you are hoping to sign and stay in LA for the long run. From an executive standpt none of this makes sense. From a coaching standpoint, D’Antoni should realize that Nash is old, I feel like Nash has been making careless turnovers, and Dwight is still only shooting 5 times a game?! i

  • http://www.facebook.com/Brill86 Andrew Woods

    If this was Lebron, he would be getting killed regardless if the coach, players, and chemistry were in disarray. If the Lakers don’t make the playoffs heads will roll. too bad kobe’s ‘no trade’ clause ensures that his head wont be one of them

  • Redd

    Earl Clark is doing well, but he always showed good potential since Orlando. But yeah Pau’s time is coming to an end, no way he stays there for much longer. His talent is being under appreciated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Yeah. That’s two bad personnel moves in a row in terms of hiring Brown and then D’Antoni. The Mike Brown hiring sucked, but this one is looking even worse because MD is adjusting to his players worse than Brown did.

    I still think the best option would have been hiring Shaw in 2011 to ensure continuity, but the execs wanted to completely eradicate the team of Phil’s influence. Not sure why you would want to crush a system that worked so well, but this is the result (well, and aging).

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    they had the best offense in the league, and the best winning % in the league with Shaq and Amar’e, under D’Antoni. They just ran into San Antonio in the playoffs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    I’ve always found the Lakers have more success when Pau is the focal point in the post. He’s an excellent passer, and he’s still very good from down low as his time in the Olympics and in recent games have shown. For whatever reason, coaches outside of PJax want to relegate him to a sparingly used option on the floor.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    D’Antoni’s lack of flexibility is really really disappointing. Pau’s complete lack of a pulse is even more disappointing. I know he should be starting. I know he should be getting more minutes. But it doesn’t help his case at all, when it looks like the basketball court is the last place on earth Gasol wants to be at.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    This team should be built for being in the post. 3 out of 5 starters are above average in the post, and one is average (MWP). They should be slowing it down every position, and working off the post if possible. It slows the game down, limits possessions for the other team, saves their legs, and allows the Lakers to use their size advantage.

    I think I’ve seen Kobe in the post like once per game this year, whereas with PJ you’d always see him catch the ball at the elbow, ready to back his player down. Just genuinely confused why D’Antoni really believes this team can play a fast paced game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    #teamBickerstaff

  • shockexchange

    What did the Gimp do this time? They beat on this boy like a rented mule.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Watching him lately, I’ve been shocked at the amount of times Nash has just lost his handle and turned the ball over, or passed it no one in particular and lost possesion. Also, he has been getting abused by PGs like Calderon and Hinrich, so there’s that.

  • shockexchange

    They can abuse Pau because they know he’ll take it. They won’t do anything to upset D12 because he hasn’t re-signed. He sorta has the Lakers “a lil bit pregnant.”

  • jack

    support Pau Gasol . think he should play inside lane . and do positional warfare also best wish Kobe . fans from china .email 1957184545@qq.com

  • aceson

    Why would Phil have been bad, because of Nash?

  • bike

    Just today, I read a comment by Kobe where he thinks LA should probably slow it down and play out of the post more. I see a major, major clash emerging between Kobe and Mike D.; adding yet another nail in the coffin. If this team does not make the playoffs, it should go down as one of the strangest things to ever occur in an nba season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    How come? Phil played a more slow it down style, which is what I preferred for this team. Nash would have likely been underutilized however.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Yeah, this is what I was reffering to in my earlier post on this topic. When speaking to the media, it is clear that Kobe and Pau prefer running it through the post – Kobe loves when Pau gets touches. Nash and D’Antoni really emphasize ball movement and not sticking it in one spot.

    Trouble brewin.

  • pposse

    This is the main reason i thought that PJAx would have been great for this team. Dwight Howard may be above average in the post, but there is a lot more that he can improve on, it just seems to be the next logical step for him individually for him to continue progressing. The triangle and PJax’s staff would have been the best thing to happen to DH, instead they choose to relegate him to pick and rolls.

    When your team is bigger and have outstanding talent, the team should win almost all of their games. I know football is different, but look what happened when Bama played Notre Dame in the championship; they murked them, the Bama team was too big, too strong too good for them. Those same principles/ foundations translate to bball and every day life for that matter!

  • patrick

    being demoted to the bench means not playing. Gasol is playing however, he’s just now starting

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Brian Shaw was the guy I thought they were going to hire. But you’re right. They didn’t want anyone around who was associated with Phil. Why go away from a system that just won you 2 championships? Shaw would be new blood. Kobe respects him. Phil would have been around as a consultant I’m sure. Another mistake they made was keeping Brown for this season and then firing him after only a few games. They should have made that decision during the offseason and come into this season with a coach who would have had a training camp to implement his system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Well, the thing was they didn’t want Phil’s influence at all, in any respect, around the organization so I doubt they would have kept him as a consultant even if Shaw had been hired. With Phil’s retirement, it was essentially a “fresh start” for the organization. If I remember correctly, they even fired a whole bunch of Laker employees that had been around since the 80s (according to Lazenby). They completely retooled personnel wise in 2011, and essentially let their championship winning bench go…Shannon Brown, Odom (though that was a good call), Fisher, Jordan Farmer, Vujacic, etc.

    I don’t know why they would try to make Kobe play under a system different from the one he’s played for most of his career, and has won 5 championships with, but they did, and it was clearly a mistake. Kupchak has done an excellent job of putting together a top-heavy roster, but as we’ve been seeing, sometimes chemistry plays a bigger role in a team’s success than simply talent-gathering.

  • theDankerNuggets

    I really like this move by D’Antoni. Pau and Howard wasn’t working that well together, bringing Pau off the bench will allow him to park himself in the low post and do what he does best, and that will be a miss match against any second unit big.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    probably because Phil would have been trying to teach the triangle, in the middle of the season. which is more complicated than D’Antoni’s offense.
    .
    the coach isn’t the team’s main problem. although, it’s a problem.

  • K_HOLIDAY

    Guess LA Mike watched NY Mike move his power forward to the bench and was like ” HEY, let me try, let me try!”

  • aceson

    Yeah that makes sense. Do you see D’Antoni coaching next season?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    depends on the roster honestly. i think we’ll find out sometime after the draft.

  • RayJr

    Agreed. Especially last night at the beginning of the game the look on Pau’s face said it all.

  • Redd

    Yeah and if you hired pj at the time you hired Mike, Oau would still be hampered and not be able to have the triangle going effectively. That would’ve thrown everything out of wack.

  • Turk

    Tim Duncan over Gasol.

  • LakeShow

    I wish I didn’t agree with all this.

  • RKJ92

    LOL I was just thinking that..

  • shutup

    And this is not the answer. Back to the drawing part

  • Seth

    As a Celtics fan I’m thoroughly enjoying this mess in LA. It would be like Christmas for me if they miss the playoffs.

  • roscoe

    how has LAL mgmt treated him poorly? seriously? how? i would like to know.

  • roscoe

    if they begin winning everyone will agree with you and call pringles a genius.

    idk if it is likely, but good point.

  • roscoe

    if you can go back and watch the TOR game & you can see Pau only works for his shot & passing the ball.

    on d-fense he plays horribly & literally does not fight for any rebounds.

    i guarantee the LAL coaches saw this and have had enough.

    pau is demanding a trade w/ his actions & is pinning it on pringles by not playing D.

    roscoe certified guarantee… 100% no doubt.

  • roscoe

    pau-ter plays no d-fense… CRAP-tac-u-lar does not work for any boards…

    pau-thetic is more like a stubborn unmovable mule by a cliff at the grand canyon.

  • theDankerNuggets

    haha thanks yeah time will tell

  • roscoe

    how about the BOS bloggers calling for BOS to trade for Pau-thetic?

    your Christmas might turn ugly in a hurry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    What happened to coaches adapting their offensive philosphy to fit their players?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it’s his back. he said he couldn’t feel his feet before the Toronto game. The guy is still hurt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    It’s kind of hard to focus on basketball when all you hear all day long on every radio and TV show how it’s your fault for the team’s struggles. Despite what people say about athletes having to be tough minded, they are still humans at the end of the day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    They have yanked him on and off from the trading block since 2011 – he has been in a constant state of insecurity (in terms of his standing within the organization) for 2 years. That takes a toll on a player, and clearly it did on Gasol last year. Even Kobe had to call out management, whom he normally supports, to either trade him or don’t, but make up your mind instead of hanging a player in limbo and having him deal with near-trades and rejected trades and all that. They told him he’d be part of the franchise, and then pretty much traded him at the first chance for Chris Paul.

    Management has also enabled and allowed coaches to relegate Pau’s influence within the team…he went from being the second option and featured into a post to a mid-range stretch 4 last year, and a bench player this year who is rarely utilized how he should be.

    This is a guy that rejuvenated the franchise in 2008 and helped lead the organization to 2 championships. He was not a role player, he was a star. He shouldn’t be tossed off to the side like a rag doll, but that’s just me. I understand its a business – I just feel for Pau.

  • Redd

    There’s going to big changes for LAL, they’ve begun to slam each other in the media.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    Why is everyone acting like Gasol is done? The guy is still one of the best low-post players in the game (see how I said low post and not mid-range/3pt shooter that Antoni is trying to turn him in to). The same guy that destroyed the reigning DPOY during the Olympics needs the ball down low on a consistent basis to be successful.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I mean that’s fair I guess. But for 19 million dollars, I don’t really care about how he deals with words in the media. He doesn’t have to listen or even hear anything. Stop watching ESPN if that’s the problem.

  • LakeShow

    Like they would ever trade Kobe if they had the chance.
    That’s like the Mav’s trading Dirk, or the Celtics trading Pierce.
    Use your noggin.

  • LakeShow

    Don’t forget who got the last laugh homie.

  • Seth

    Oh, I haven’t forgotten.

  • robb

    Getting D’Antoni was the worst decision ever by a front office. Damn you Fredo Corleone Buss!

  • Seth

    Which bloggers? I don’t know how a trade for Pau would work, as cool as it would be to have him here. I’d much rather see a deal for Josh Smith though.

  • LakeShow

    Alright, your cool then. Laugh away lol…

  • Dutch Rich

    I knew a fat guy once. He said he could feel his feet but hadn’t seen em in years.

  • roscoe

    those are good points, but pau is treated just like 99% of the rest of the L.

    pro sports are brutal, but the pay and fame makes up for it imo.

    the difference for pau vs. the 99% is he earns $20 d@mn Million a year.

    i don’t feel for pau-thetic… he needs to suck it up & go beast mode.

  • roscoe
  • deception is the only felony

    Yeah gotta respect him not already wanting a trade

  • Seth

    Interesting. Not exactly a reliable source, but interesting nonetheless. Pau would do wonders for the C’s rebounding woes.

  • Stephen A. Smith

    This goes to show @disqus_rOeXXBD2qs:disqus that you have no idea what you’re talking about, saying D’Antoni fits for this team and is a better higher than Phil Jackson, well you’re wrong. The sad thing is you’ll never admit that you’re wrong because you act like you know more than anyone on here about basketball, which clearly isn’t the case.

    Do you see what happens when the coach has no idea what he is doing offensively not to even mention defensively? The guy won’t even adjust his offense for the two bigs (Gasol and Howard). I repeat HE WON’T ADJUST HIS OFFENSE FOR GASOL AND HOWARD! He keeps blaming the team but he doesn’t do anything to change his game plan. “Yeah I have two All-Stars, I’ll put one of them on the bench and not let them play together.

    You don’t hire a coach like D’Antoni who wants to have a Run-N-Gun offense with two 7 footers in the lineup, Gasol who has knee tendonitis, Howard who’s coming off of back surgery, a 34 year old Kobe Bryant, MWP who has had back problems, and a 38 year old PG.

    Like I said, you don’t hire a coach who doesn’t believe in defense, a man that does not preach defense, this man does not care about defense, this man’s definition of defense is more offense!

    D’Antoni’s Suns Defensive Stats (Opponents Points Per Game)
    03-04 26th in the NBA
    04-05 30th in the NBA
    05-06 28th in the NBA
    06-07 23rd in the NBA
    07-08 25th in the NBA

    Who’s to blame for all of this? None other than Jim Buss, there’s no reason for him to hold the position that he holds, other than his Daddy being the owner of the Lakers. He’s the one who forced Kupchak to hire D’Antoni over Jackson, just for simple fact that he doesn’t like the guy (could be because he’s sleeping with his sister).

    To the Lakers management, trading Gasol won’t make this team any better, it’ll make them a whole lot worse. If D’Antoni doesn’t get his act together and doesn’t have this team above .500 before the All-Star break, fire him, and save this season while you can. Then Jim Buss get on your knees and go beg Phil Jackson to return, because that is the only man that can coach/fix this team and get them into the Playoffs.

  • Yesse

    Just get rid of this coach already. Signing him was the worst decision LA made.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nickrose.friedman Nick Rosé Friedman

    Is anyone else confused as to why Kobe won’t voice his opinions and vouch on behalf of Gasol? We weigh in http://bit.ly/VYmoZL

  • roscoe

    but its on the internet!

    BOS is going to either get a BIG or are going to blow up d’team.

  • http://www.facebook.com/francis.aboy Francis Aboy

    This makes sense especially with Jordan Hill injured. If this helps win games, taking a bench role shouldn’t hurt your feelings. This is Pau’s opportunity to win 6th man of the year award. The only Trophy the Lakers will win this year unless Mamba or D12 get MVP @ all star.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    LeBron would have this Lakers team at 1 or 2 in the West. No chemistry problems with a player with the skillset of LeBron.

  • RunNGun

    Pau Gasol is a trooper whether in the starting lineup or on the bench. Being traded to another team is inevitable. The problem is… who’s willing to take on that two year, 38M contract? The only way I see this happening is the Lakers paying for a substantial part of his salary. However, I’m not so sure this can happen. I know that with the new CBA, only 3M cash can be moved (The David Kahn Rule).

  • K_HOLIDAY

    Well get ready to be put on the nice list. You should get ur wish this year! Lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/Brill86 Andrew Woods

    I actually disagree but agree with you. They wont trade Kobe for what he ‘means’ to the Lakers more than what his ‘production’ does for the Lakers. If i were a GM based on production and team chemistry there are at least 4-7 players i would trade Kobe for. maybe more.

  • LakeShow

    Exactly, LeBron is a team. You just need shooters.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Opponents points per game is useless. You have to adjust for pace. – and no coach is/was winning with this team. Sorry. We were all wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    And again, The D’Antoni hiring was Dr. JERRY Buss’ decision. Not Jim’s, as was innacurately reported.

  • mvv

    I can agree with DA system, but if you want to have just one big man, why Howard?

    Pau can do the same (much better, I would say) and at least, he doesn´t airball free throws…!!!

    (no to mention how irritating is that stupid smile after each missed shot. Mr DH, can you just lock yourself in the gym and get a decent shot???)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainman1991 Saleem Rainman

    What seed in the playoffs were the Phoenix Suns that year?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainman1991 Saleem Rainman

    Pierce is on the trading block actually, lol. They’d much rather deal him than Garnett or even Rondo apparently.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    6th.
    .
    going into the Shaq trade Phoenix was on a 6-Game losing skid. Lost their first game with Shaq. And then went 17-10 (i believe) the rest of the way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainman1991 Saleem Rainman

    Im of the opinion that Shaq didnt fit. 17-10 isnt really all that great, and it showed when they lost 4-1 to the Spurs. I know, Tim Duncan hit that impossible 3, and that basically broke the Suns back, but overall, the Suns-Shaq marriage wasnt a pretty one at all.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Before you come up with that conclusion, did you consider how good the team was in the first place? because they really had no chance at beating San Antonio before the trade anyway.

    .

    In Shaq’s 28 games under D’Antoni, he averaged 13 points, & 11 rebounds on 61% shooting, in just 28 minutes.

    .

    The problem is, they traded away their team leader in minutes, and only had 28 games to figure out how they played and how the rotation worked.

    .

    And 17-10 is 63% win percentage. — Good for 51 wins in an 82 game season. And that’s without a training camp – making a huge change.

    .
    And they finished the season (the last 20 games) 15-5, which is a 75% win percentage —- good for 61 wins in a full season.

  • RedRum

    Ridiculous… absolutely ridiculous… Currently Pau is the best post player in the league along his brother and Duncan (Dwight is still hurt and Griffin needs to play D). And he is on the bench because of Pringle’s system??? Listen Pringles, your system has never won anything, and by the looks of it it never will. This will be his downfall..

  • LakeShow

    No, he’s not.

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