TCT’s Game of the Week features #11 Ohio State going up against...
Injured Gasol Needs To Escape From LA
Pau Gasol needs to escape from LA. If the recently injured 32-year old big man was reincarnated as a comedian, it would be Rodney Dangerfield because he gets no respect.
Every time there is trouble in La-La Land, Gasol’s name pops up in trade rumors, shocking the fragile power forward into a comatose state. It’s no secret Gasol has a tendency to play soft mentally and physically in the game, but he is also capable of being a cornerstone piece in the right team’s success. Yet each time the Lakers serve him up as trade bait, a little part of Pau dies.
After arriving in LA in 2008 from Memphis for some draft picks and bit players (the Grizzlies should have won the MVP for helping out the Lakers that year), Gasol’s length and low-post scoring ability proved a crucial element of two back to back Laker championships alongside Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Not bad for a guy who looks like a stoned ostrich who happens to have game.
But Gasol has a history of questionable mental toughness. Even Bryant, a supporter of Gasol, has called out his teammate on many occasions in a way that makes it clear Bryant should never become a grievance counselor.
“Put your big-boy pants on,” Bryant said in December after a loss. ”Just adjust. Just adjust. You can’t whine about it. You can’t complain about it.”
Gasol’s numbers have diminished each year as a Laker from a high of 18.9 ppg in 2008 to his current 13.4 ppg this season. The acquisition of fellow big man Dwight Howard has proven unsuccessful in turning the Lakers into a threat against Miami or Oklahoma. Hell, they aren’t even a threat to Charlotte this season.
Offensive minded coach Mike D’Antoni refuses to let Gasol and Howard play together, preferring to have one big man and four players spreading the floor to compliment his uptempo style. With D’Antoni running the show, Gasol was given a permanent seat on the bench for the first time in his career last month. Considering the dismal season the Lakers are having, taking an All-Star out of the starting lineup is a red flag that in this case it’s the system, not the player, that’s dysfunctional.
“I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate,” Gasol said according to an ESPN report.
Whether he appreciates it or not, Gasol has to realize that he is the odd man out in D’Antoni’s system. In a league that asks the question “what have you done for me lately?” on a quarter by quarter basis, Gasol is a disappearing act in Los Angeles.
With the news that Gasol is out for six to eight weeks with a tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot, it’s time for the Lakers to stop the torture and part ways with the veteran from Spain. The Lakers don’t need a sensitive big man and Gasol needs a team that will look for him instead of past him.
Paul Gasol is a team guy. He doesn’t look for the spotlight. Regarding his exile to the bench, Gasol took the high road.
“We don’t need any other distractions, any more negativity. We need positive embracing, we need focus, we need to support each other.” Gasol said. “That’s where we’re at and that’s where I’m at, too.”
No more negativity? Positive embracing? It sounds like Pau forgot he’s the Lakers favorite piñata. Big men and hurt feelings don’t make for a good mix, especially in an organization like the Lakers, who air their dirty laundry publicly with ease. The Lakers #16 did his time and contributed to a successful run, but it’s time for Pau to walk away from a flawed experiment in which he’s the guinea pig.
Gasol should demand a trade and limp out of Hollywood before the biggest injury he sustains isn’t a torn plantar fascia, but a broken heart and a damaged psyche.
Article has been read 774 times