The pattern at the end of the Lakers win over the Bobcats was unmistakable — Pau Gasol would sub for Dwight Howard, then a few minutes later Howard would sub for Gasol.
There’s a reason for that — lineups with both Gasol and Howard were -22. Against the Bobcats. Mike D’Antoni isn’t stupid, he saw what wasn’t working and went away from it.
But that meant someone sat late — Pau Gasol was in the game for the key hack-a-Dwight time before the final two minutes, but as has happened before this season Howard was on the floor and Gasol was on the bench in the key final minutes. This time the Lakers held on for the win.
After the game D’Antoni tried to play this off as happened because Gasol is getting back into shape following missing eight games with knee tendonitis. Sure. But Gasol was not too happy about it, as Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reported after the game on Sulia.
“When the game is on the line, I need to be on the court. That’s what I get paid to do.”
Gasol also said: “Hopefully, that won’t happen too often.”
It should happen every time the Howard and Gasol are -22 when matched up against Byron Mullens and Bismack Biyombo.
So far, in a very small sample size, the Lakers have struggled in Mike D’Antoni’s system when those two are on the floor together. And the Lakers have to figure it out because they can’t sit one of their best players in the final minutes of games if they are going to get near their potential.
D’Antoni said they would after the game and said they would tinker to make it work with those two on the court together. I hope there are more detailed plans in there somewhere. Because it not, this could become a bigger issue going forward.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.