Culver City Observer -

Struggling Lakers Miss Gasol A Lot

 

December 25, 2014



By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

As I look at the Lakers’ dreadful record I wonder how much better they’d be this season if Pau Gasol remained on the team.

Gasol, a far better big man than anyone on the Lakers this season, was driven away (let’s be frank about this) by his dispute with Coach Mike D’Antoni.

As I’ve written before, D’Antoni’s offense featured three-point shooting rather than plays revolving around a center.

Dwight Howard didn’t like that and departed after one Laker season when he became a free agent.

He signed with Houston, which appreciates him, and the Rockets have won 10 more games than they’ve lost.

Houston is one of many teams vying for a Western Conference playoff berth while the Lakers are already hopelessly out of contention.

The Lakers could have partially overcome the loss of Howard if they still had Gasol.

But Gasol, who was a free agent, left too. He signed with Chicago, where he’s happy and compiling impressive statistics.

D’Antoni had Gasol chasing rebounds instead of using his considerable talent to initiate the offense with his passing and scoring in his variety of moves.

The Bulls are trying to reach the Eastern Conference playoffs and they’re in far better position than the Lakers are in the West.

Gasol is averaging 18.7 points per game. He ranks third in the NBA in rebounds and seventh in blocked shots.

“I was worn down last season when I was in and out of the lineup and the subject of so many trade rumors,’ Gasol admits.

The Lakers have assigned their center position to Jordan Hill. I respect his value as a basketball player and would welcome to any team in the league. He’s very competitive, a remarkable rebounder and this season he’s improved his outside shooting.

But he’s a forward, not a center for the 82-game grind. He’s doing the best he can, but look at the Lakers’ record and realize one problem is they don’t have a force in the middle.

What were the Lakers thinking? What was D’Antoni thinking when he discouraged Howard and Gasol and left the Lakers without a true center except Robert Sacre, who hasn’t progressed past being a substitute.

The Lakers’ greatness over the years has included superior center play from Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.

It’s sad to see how the current management has allowed the center position to disintegrate so far.

 

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