COMMENTARY | In their current dismal state, the Los Angeles Lakers are being relegated to playing the blame game as their 17-24 season looks increasingly worse. The losses continue to pile up, and it doesn't take a keen set of eyes to see that things aren't working with this team of All-Stars as constructed, especially when it comes to Pau Gasol.
It's not a coincidence that Gasol has been rendered virtually useless in a high-octane offense that traditionally calls for a "stretch" power forward -- a big man who can step out consistently and hit the 3-pointer and is comfortable playing from the perimeter.
Gasol's season averages of 13.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest are all below his career averages. At 32 years-old and 11 years in the NBA, he still has some good miles left on his legs. His current production doesn't reflect anything close to what he's still capable of.
It's time to look at head coach Mike D'Antoni, who has shown no signs of being able to adapt his system to the personnel he's been given. Gasol was instrumental in helping the Lakers win titles in 2009 and 2010 with his dynamic skill set. How then, is he now banished to the bench when his game is still intact?
Morover, how is it that in the D'Antoni system, the Lakers are better when only one of their 7-footers is on the floor at a time? L.A. is +7.8 when Gasol is on the floor without Howard and +11.6 when only Howard is in the game without Gasol. That means that D'Antoni's decision to keep the Spaniard on the bench to begin games is a copout and that he's not interested in changing his ways to make things work with both on the floor.
Since when does it make sense not to start your best players?
The coaching staff has to find a way to maximize the talent on the roster, and so far, they haven't done it. The fact that Gasol and Howard can't coexist on the floor is inexcusable, and it stems from them playing outside their comfort zone. In a year where the Lakers have to keep Dwight Howard happy at all costs in hopes of re-signing him, Gasol will be the odd man out.
Now, the Lakers are stuck in a no-win situation. D'Antoni is too stubborn to change his system to suit his bigs, so now L.A. has to explore trade offers for Gasol once again. This will only serve as even more of a distraction as their troubling season wears on when they desperately need to string together wins in bunches. Sadly, even with a trade, it's hard to envision the Lakers getting equal value back for Gasol.
It's just one of many troubling situations regarding the disappointment of the 2012-13 Lakers and the requisite drama as it relates to Hollywood's team.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as Southern California-based sports journalist. In addition to being an award-winning Yahoo! Contributor, he writes regularly for SB Nation and Examiner.com. He is also the Editor of Sports Out West.
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