Adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the offseason was supposed to bolster Los Angels’ roster and put the Lakers on par with the Miami Heat as the most talented teams in the NBA. Mike D’Antoni was expected to right the ship, but that too has been a failed experiment.
Gasol has been part of nearly every Lakers rumor for the last two years. When a deal is perceived to be in the works or the Lakers simply aren’t performing, Gasol is the first name to be mentioned as a potential trade piece.
And according to Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register, Gasol has a new role with the Lakers:
Pau Gasol is out as Lakers' starter, Mike D'Antoni said. Permanently.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) January 22, 2013
Gasol doesn’t want to be a bench player, though, and he was vocal about that fact. A report by ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin reveals this:
I’ve never come off the bench in my career. (Thursday) was my first game off the bench with the Lakers, maybe a couple other games due to injuries, but that’s it. I’ve been a starter my entire career. I’ve been a star starter my entire career, so I want to continue to be a star starter.
If the Lakers aren’t willing to give Gasol the start every night, it should be time for him to demand a trade. Los Angeles is floundering, and it has become abundantly clear that Gasol is no longer a solution in Los Angeles.
The situation will only continue to get more toxic as it continues, and if the Lakers fail to move Gasol before the trade deadline on Feb. 21, Los Angeles shouldn’t expect the season to end well.
Gasol isn’t a contentious player on the court or in the locker room, and his mistreatment in Los Angeles comes as a surprise. Mike D’Antoni claims he is simply trying to right the ship, but one could argue he is going about it the wrong way (per McMenamin):
My job is to put the best team on the floor. If I feel like (starting Gasol is) the best way to go, then we’ll go that way. If I don’t, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that I got to do what I think is right. I think every player has to accept what is right, whether they like it or not. So, that’s the bottom line.
D’Antoni may have a point, but the NBA is an ego-driven league, and if a player doesn’t feel he is being treated well in his current situation, that player is often the driving force for ending up somewhere else.
And with the way the Lakers’ season is going, Gasol may have a better shot at a championship elsewhere.
Gasol should end the volatility now and demand an exit from this mess. He is one of the top big men in the entire league and should play for a team that will fully utilize his talents.