By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

Lakers Haven't Been Fair to Gasol


February 11, 2013

Lakers Haven’t Been Fair to Gasol

In addition to other blunders that have plunged the Lakers into a sub-.500 team there’s the matter of how they’ve mistreated Pau Gasol the last two years.

We’re talking about one of the premier big men in NAa history, a thoroughly accomplished inside player who’s been shuffled into a position he never had to play before.

First, this was to accommodate Andrew Bynun last season. And now Dwight Howard this season.

Let me submit the theory that Gasol is a better basketball player than either of them.

Bynum hasn’t yet mastered the position and Howard does his best on defense but lacks the instinct for the center position on offense.

Gasol makes the right play. He’s an outstanding passer. The Lakers should appreciate what he can do for them.

After Gasol slumped last season new owner Jim Buss admitted Gasol was not at his best while playing away from the basket. Change was promised.

But after Coach Mike Brown was fired Buss chose Mike D’Antoni, whose philosophy made Gasol’s situation worse.

D’Antoni wants his big men to sprint downcourt and be in position to make three-point shots. He’s been quoted that throwing the ball to the center often in the set offense isn’t the best way to play.

Bynum had a lot of promise but was so immature the Lakers reluctantly decided to give up on him. They sent him to Philsdelphia in the complex trade that brought Howard here.

Still recovering from a shoulder injury that limited his play in Orlando last season Howard has fallen far short of being the dominating center the Lakers hoped he would be.

And now Gasol has suffered a foot injury that will keep him out for two months. The Lakers miss him a lot.

Earl Clark has played well since replacing Gasol in the starting lineup, but the absence of Gasol is a major blow to the Lakers’ hopes of getting into the playoffs.

The Lakers are now in a difficult position in figuring out how to proceed.

Gasol has $19 million remaining on two years of his contract, so it will be hard to trade him. Considering that Howard won’t decide until summer if he’s going to sign for next season with the Lakers the Lakers probably need to keep Gasol in case he’s their best option for center next season.

What a mess this is. Since Howard never won an NBA championship in Orlando I can’t rate him with the great Laker centers of the past. Did the Lakers do enough homework before bringing Howard in for this season?

Will Howard play better next season if his shoulder injury clears up? I think he’ll be a bigger force defensively, but where does he fit in D’Antoni’s offense?

I really don’t know.


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