It’s obviously been a bit of a rough season for the Lakers, and especially so for Pau Gasol.
Gasol was once again embroiled in what have been seemingly annual trade talks, only to see him remain with the team now that the deadline has passed. He’s been injured off and on, though not to the degree of Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash, so he’s been on the court for plenty of L.A.’s losing this season.
After seeing a game that was within three points at the half turn into a disheartening 20-point loss (albeit on the road, and to one of the league’s best teams), Gasol spoke out on what he perceives as one of the team’s biggest problems.
With 12 of the Lakers’ 15 players without a contract for next season and the Lakers 15 games out of a playoff spot with 25 games left to play, Gasol indirectly challenged coach Mike D’Antoni to take control of his team that the 33-year old believes is being sabotaged by selfish play.
“That’s why you have to be disciplined and implement discipline, that’s how you kind of make that better or make that not a factor,” Gasol said when asked about the Lakers’ collection of players, himself included, on expiring deals.”I don’t think there’s a lot of discipline right now.”
When asked to detail what type of discipline he was seeking, Gasol brought up another issue, pointing to D’Antoni’s decision to play a small-ball lineup against the plus-sized Pacers.
“The type that will allow us to compete a little better,” said Gasol after Indiana outrebounded L.A. 62-42. “I think when you have a lineup like Zach [Randolph] and Marc [Gasol] tomorrow (the Lakers finish off their two-game road back-to-back Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies), you have to match up accordingly a little bit, I think. That’s just me.”
Things aren’t going to become any easier for Gasol to deal with.
In addition to having so many guys essentially playing to earn a spot elsewhere next season, you’ve got others who were just added in Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks playing heavy minutes, with no idea what the schemes are on either side of the ball.
Gasol is going to leave the Lakers in free agency this summer, so he too should keep his eyes firmly focused on the future. The season is a lost one in Los Angeles; Gasol should simply play it out to the best of his ability, because whatever complaints he has, however valid, aren’t going to change the team’s fortunes.