Lakers may bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from injury

17 Comments

Pau Gasol has missed the Lakers last three games, two of which were losses, due to tendinitis in his knees.

It’s been evident watching him in the young part of this season that he doesn’t have the energy or the explosiveness necessary to give his team what is expected, so maybe the injury is the true reason behind his slow start.

But what if it isn’t, and Gasol simply can’t find his way for the second straight season in the Lakers offense?

Besides the possibility of being traded at some point, L.A. may look to mix up its lineups, and bring Gasol off the bench whenever he is ready to return to action.

From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers are debating whether to bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis, said a person familiar with the team’s thinking.

Gasol has struggled mightily this season, averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, both career lows.

The Lakers are trying to decide how a demotion to the bench would affect Gasol. If they determined it would be adverse, they’d keep him in the starting lineup.

Gasol isn’t the type to pout, and it would be tough to imagine him giving any less than 100 percent playing with the second unit. And let’s not forget, even if someone comes off the bench, the rotation will dictate that he’ll play at some point with members of the starting lineup.

Whether Gasol starts or comes off the bench shouldn’t matter to him personally; he’s started in every game he’s appeared this season, yet didn’t play the entire fourth quarter in Memphis, and was held out for the final six minutes in the embarrassing loss to the Magic.

Mike D’Antoni isn’t going to be afraid to tinker with the lineups while doing everything in his power to make this stacked Lakers team into the title contender we all expected it to be.

If Gasol can adapt to playing with the second unit, and can excel in that role while doing so, he’ll be on the floor in crunch time when it counts.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

Leave a comment

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

AP Photo/Eric Gay
1 Comment

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
5 Comments

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

Leave a comment

Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.