It has been a dreadful season for the new-look Los Angeles Lakers thus far with yet another loss added to their record after failing to get the best of the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Sunday night. With a second loss to the Jazz on the season, the Lakers drop to 9-12 on the year with an uncertain future ahead with the current roster.
The one player on the team that has a more uncertain future than any other moving forward is two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol. The trade speculation continues surrounding Gasol with all sorts of rumors flying around Los Angeles about his seemingly imminent departure if he can’t turn it around, but the team is reluctant to pull the trigger on a deal to send Gasol elsewhere until the return of Steve Nash.
In the meantime, while Gasol rests with tendinitis in both knees, there’s been talk of the veteran power forward heading to the bench once healthy enough to get back on the floor. In Gasol’s absence, head coach Mike D’Antoni has gone with Antawn Jamison as the starter. Obviously, Jamison’s presence in the starting lineup hasn’t had a great impact with the team continuing to struggle, but it has been a topic of debate that Jamison fits D’Antoni’s system better than Gasol in terms of stretching the floor.
Fortunately for Gasol, the Lakers’ coaching staff has no intention of bringing Gasol off the bench once he returns according to Ben Bolch of the L.A. Times:
Pau Gasol will remain a starter when the tendinitis in his knees subsides to the point that he can play again.
The trade speculation and debate over Gasol being the right fit for the Lakers under D’Antoni will likely continue if the team can’t turn things around once the Spaniard returns to the floor. D’Antoni said the following via Bolch about Gasol’s return:
“I’m not going to mess with Pau,” D’Antoni said Sunday, alluding the possibility of bringing the four-time All-Star off the bench. “He’s too important to the team and he’s earned it and he’s too good of a player to even go there yet. That would be a last-resort kind of [thing], desperate.”
Although D’Antoni is expressing no intention of Gasol not being a part of this team or bench player rather than a starter, the frustration continues to mount in Los Angeles with 21 games in the books and no change since the firing of Mike Brown a few weeks ago.