Gasol admits he doesn’t fit Lakers offense
by Samuel Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – Can forward Pau Gasol flourish in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system and help save the Lakers’ debacle of a season?
It depends on whom you ask.
Kobe Bryant says yes. Gasol, who returned after an eight-game absence Tuesday night in a Lakers win over Charlotte, says maybe. And D’Antoni, whose task of re-integrating Gasol will be significantly tougher than the welcome back party that will be thrown when point guard Steve Nash (left leg) comes back as soon as Saturday, feigns confidence that clearly isn’t there.
“I think so,” D’Antoni, whose team has won three in a row but is just 12-14, said when the question about Gasol was posed. “There’s no reason not to (think Gasol can flourish). We do have to find the right balance between him and Dwight (Howard) in the post and all that stuff that goes with it. But I would be shocked if he can’t.”
Three-game winning streak be darned, the Lakers still have a big problem with their big men. If Gasol can’t find a way to fit in with the free-agent-to-be Howard, both he and his contract worth a combined $38 million for this season and next may be sent elsewhere before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. Gasol admitted in an interview with USA TODAY Sports that the system is far from an ideal fit for his skill-set.
While he’s a deft shooter and passer, he’s also one of the best post players in the game. The problem, of course, is that D’Antoni’s system made famous during his time in Phoenix from 2004 to 2008 requires that only one big man roams the paint while everyone else heads to the edges.
“I don’t find (playing with Howard) tough,” said Gasol, who had 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks in his return. “It’s more the system right now that makes it tough at times, because (D’Antoni) wants four guys to be spread and one interior guy, and it’s a guard-oriented system, so that makes it tough.
“I think there’s enough looks for both of us. But again, it’s not a system that you post … [For more on Gasol has no prayer on the wing in new Lakers offense, click here.]