Mike D’Antoni Explains Decision To Play Howard, Bench Gasol Last Season

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles LakersLast season did not go as planned and was filled with unmet expectations. As the Lakers organization, team and fans are poised and ready to move on to next season with different expectations, certain decisions and moves are now being surfaced from last season, especially concerning Dwight Howard.

Last season, Dwight Howard was met with high expectations from the Lakers and the fans, even with the acknowledgment that his back wasn’t 100 percent. After all, that comes with the territory of being a Laker, which is also why the Lakers are the Lakers.

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Therefore, Howard consumed a lot of the spotlight as many thought he had the potential to be the future of the franchise. This also played a major factor is Mike D’Antoni’s decision to play Howard over Pau Gasol, even benching Gasol frequently in key moments of games. D’Antoni explained that decision to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA, saying:

“There was just a lot of factors last year that won’t come up this year,” D’Antoni said. “I even told (Gasol), you make decisions based a lot of times on the future that probably, if you were just doing the competitive, basketball thing, the decision would have been something else.”

Gasol echoed that sentiment by saying:

“Obviously the franchise wanted Dwight to stay and everyone, or a lot of people, tried to make him comfortable and please him at times.”

Now that Howard is in Houston, and the Lakers are moving on from last season’s drama-filled year, Pau Gasol will be returning to the center position where he will be featured in an expected more fluid offense. Gasol’s health should be more consistent and sustainable, which strengthens the idea that he is poised for a much improved season.

Steve Nash also anticipate a more efficient and fluid offense with Gasol featured down low. D’Antoni is planning to runs many pick-and-rolls, where Gasol can either receive the pass for his own scoring opportunity or make a pass as Gasol has the basketball IQ that allows him to make the right plays.

Expectations for this season’s Lakers may be drastically different than last year, but all is not lost with the purple and gold. With solid acquisitions this offseason and a hopefully healthy squad, only time will tell just how this Lakers team will turn out.

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