The Gasol problem wasn’t fixed in his return
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – The loudest of buzzers went off yet again late Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant’s cell phone informing him like it always does that it was time to take those tired, old feet out of the ice that soothed them.
The time may come when the routine of that blaring noise won’t be symbolic of this alarming Lakers season, a chaotic campaign in which expectations and reality have been about as close to each other as Phil Jackson and Jim Buss. But that time is not now, and nothing about their 101-100 win over lowly Charlotte at the Staples Center changed that.
Three-game winning streak be darned, the warning signs remain.
Forward Pau Gasol returned from an eight-game absence (knee tendinitis) to provide moderate impact, those flashes of how he can help wrapped in a cocoon of confusion about what his role will be under coach Mike D’Antoni. Then after finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks, Gasol – who will spend the next weeks and possibly months in an informal tryout of sorts while the Lakers decide whether or not he needs to be traded – admitted to USA TODAY Sports that the uncertainty remains about whether or not both he and center Dwight Howard can flourish in D’Antoni’s spread offense.
“I don’t find (playing with Howard) tough,” Gasol said as he stood at the loading dock. “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 up a lot, so we’ll see. We’ve just got to figure it out, but if you’ve got two great post-up players, you’ve got to utilize it.”
This was never supposed to be the season of crossed fingers, with Lakers players and coaches alike just hoping that their tremendous mixture of talent would find a way to mesh. But here they are, with late December drawing near and the top spot in … [For more on Why the Pau Gasol problem wasn't fixed in his return, click here.]