When I check-in with people around the Lakers organization, the first question I ask them is “what offers are you getting for Pau?” I usually get a laugh in response…..but not this week.
Gasol said recently that he thinks playing in the new Mike D’Antoni offense will be “fun.” I don’t think so.
Sources tell me that Pau’s days in L.A. are numbered.
Had the team brought Phil Jackson back as coach, the seven-foot Spaniard would’ve resumed his place as pinch-post superstar…hitting guys all over the floor and getting his own shot too. But, in the D’Antoni system, Gasol will be the odd man out.
The first thing you’ll notice about the new-look Lakers will be their downsizing. PG’s will play a lot together, Kobe will slide down to the three-spot, and Metta will play a lot of PF. That leaves Pau Gasol in a difficult position. The bench rotation will also shorten…another D’Antoni trademark.
The Lakers’ most common lineup under D’Antoni will be Howard at center with four “smalls.” While Pau will continue to start alongside Dwight, he’ll likely head to the bench as soon as Mike can justify it. Antawn Jamison will see his minutes go up significantly as a space-four and his scoring will likely get up into double figures (finally). Jordan Hill, though a former resident of D’Antoni’s doghouse in N.Y., will be Howard’s primary back-up. That leaves little space for Gasol.
Some people may see Pau filling the same role that Boris Diaw did in Phoenix. But, if you remember, Diaw’s best year was when Amare was out and he played center full-time. With Howard the present and the future in Los Angeles, Pau will only clog up the court…..a D’Antoni pet peeve.
Kobe Bryant will obviously have to be convinced that trading his best buddy on the team is necessary. But, after hearing him call Mike D’Antoni “an offensive genius” recently, I think coach’s opinion will go a long way in that discussion.
I don’t think the Lakers will make any moves in the next month or two…they’ve had enough commotion so far this season. But expect to see Sportando covering a lot of Pau Gasol rumors come February.
Mike D’Antoni will want more shooters, and $18 million can buy a lot of them. The “big man” will be long gone by the trade deadline.