Magic Johnson Wants the Lakers to Stop Misusing Pau Gasol

by December 12, 2012

As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to lose, Magic Johnson continues to rip them through the press. The legend’s criticism is largely directed at Laker management and coaching, who Johnson believes are not taking advantage of Pau Gasol’s skills (which, it should be noted, Kobe Bryant agrees with.) Per the LA Times: “The Lakers, who were expected to be title contenders after acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, have a disappointing (9-13) record. But even though the Lakers are struggling under Mike D’Antoni, Johnson doesn’t think that the Lakers should make another coaching change. ‘Look the season has already been disrupted one time,’ Johnson said, referring to the firing of coach Mike Brown after five games. ‘Another change would just blow the whole team up, you’d just lose everybody. The Lakers don’t need another change.’ Instead, Johnson thinks D’Antoni must adjust his run-and-gun style to fit the style of the slower and older players on the roster. ‘His system doesn’t fit the talent that the Lakers have,’ Johnson said. ‘You can’t run with this team. Where are the runners? You got one dude who can get up and down the court and that’s Kobe [Bryant]. Ron [Metta World Peace], love him, but he’s slow. Both of our big men, not fast guys. [D’Antoni] has got to say, ‘Maybe I should scale it back.’ Johnson believes D’Antoni’s biggest mistake so far is how he’s used Pau Gasol. ‘He’s still one of the best passing big man, I’m sorry, he is the best passing big man in the game, but you have him at the free throw line” waiting for the ball, Johnson said. ‘That makes no sense. That’s not his game. His game is catch it on the low block, face his man, one dribble left or right, he’s in the cup, nice hook, nice move, because he’s got great moves.’ Gasol, who missed his fifth game Tuesday because of knee tendinitis, has struggled this season, averaging a career-low 12.6 points a game. ‘Now all the blame is on his shoulders, like he’s not performing well,’ Johnson said of Gasol. ‘He can’t take that. That’s not who he is. They got to put him in a winning situation because once Gasol starts playing well, I think the team will play well.’ […] ‘Gasol to me is the key to this whole thing,’ Johnson said. ‘But if you continue to have him at the three-point line, he’s not going to perform well because he hasn’t been out there, especially with Phil Jackson and the Lakers. When he was playing in Memphis, he was down low. I got to adjust my system a little bit if I’m the coach, that’s all.'”