According to Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, the Lakers are debating bringing the Spaniard off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis.
While it will be tough for Gasol to swallow, it would be in his, and the team's, best interest for Gasol to become the sixth man.
Gasol is averaging just 12.6 points and shooting only 42 percent from the field, both career lows, thus far in 2012. He has had a hard time adjusting to the large amount of turnover on the team's roster, and the Laker’s move away from the Triangle offense, which he was so effective in under Phil Jackson only two years ago.
The signing of Dwight Howard was supposed to be a positive, but thus far it's only thrown a wrench in the Lakers' flow.
Howard commands the paint area on the offensive end of the floor, pushing Gasol to the outside. This renders Gasol's excellent post-game repertoire useless. Now, he has transformed into nothing more than a seven-foot jump shooter.
This may sound harsh, but that's been his biggest role in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense.
Howard patrols the paint in the half-court and spends most of the possession establishing position on the block. This has pushed Gasol into the mid-range area, forcing him to take more jump shots than ever. Actually, there are quite a few possessions in which Gasol’s only role is as a spot-up three-point shooter.
Sure, part of his struggles can be attributed to an adjustment period with the new players and system. And there is no doubt that when Steve Nash returns Gasol will receive a boost because of his ability to work the pick-and-roll.
However, Gasol would really benefit from coming off the bench. He would be the leader of the second unit the Lakers have lacked.
This new role would allow Gasol to return to the paint area, where he is so effective offensively, when Howard is out of the game. Then, the offense would flow through him, as it did in Memphis when he averaged right around 20 points for his entire tenure.
But that's individually, moving Gasol to the bench would give the Lakers' bench the scoring punch it has lacked. Not a single bench player for LA averages more than 8.3 points a game.
A move to the bench wouldn't mean a demotion either. Gasol could still be on the floor to finish games. A role players like Jason Terry, James Harden and Jamal Crawford have shined in the past few years.
It won't make Gasol happy; any player of his skill wants to start.
But Gasol is a professional. He can handle entering the game off the bench. In the end, it's the right move for him and the Lakers.
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