Mike D’Antoni decided to go with a move that had been contemplated for weeks right before the Lakers’ loss to Chicago. Here’s Kevin Ding from the Orange County Register with the report:
Pau Gasol is being removed as Lakers’ starting power forward in favor of Earl Clark, and not on a temporary basis, D’Antoni said before the 17-23 Lakers played in Chicago on Monday night.
“We just have to do that,” D’Antoni said.
“Have to do that” as in go small. Mike D’Antoni’s offense has always been about the “small ball” type. Plus he never really showed too much admiration on Pau Gasol’s game. So he inserted Earl Clark in the starting line-up, who had been playing well. Gasol played well off the bench with 15 points and 12 rebounds but the Lakers succumbed to the Bulls, 95-83.
Pau Gasol wasn’t exactly excited about going to the bench. From the same article:
Said Gasol after he didn’t start and the Lakers dropped to 17-24: “I’m not excited about it. … But right now I’m more worried about us as a team and us struggling, and it’d be selfish of me to talk about something I feel in particular.”
At least, Gasol has made it known that, while he previously said he wasn’t open to coming off the bench, he’s all about the team first. But it’s just not about Gasol coming off the bench that’s been an issue with this team. The Lakers have many, many issues that need fixing. There’s the defense, there’s the rotation, there’s the inflexibility of D’Antoni, and, of course, there’s the Dwight Howard issue.
But all this professionalism by Gasol won’t save the Lakers alone. They are still 17-24 and on pace for 34 wins, which is the same number of wins the 2004-05 Lakers got, the last time the Lakers missed the postseason.
Gasol is having the worst season of his career as he is averaging 12.7 points and shooting .432 from the field.