The L.A. Lakers Should Bench Mike D’Antoni Instead of Pau Gasol

According to ESPN, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is flirting with the idea of bringing forward Pau Gasol off the bench, and reportedly, Gasol is none to thrilled by the prospects.

"I've never come off the bench in my career," Gasol said. "(Thursday) was my first game off the bench with the Lakers, maybe a couple other games due to injuries, but that's it. I've been a starter my entire career. I've been a star starter my entire career, so I want to continue to be a star starter."

Gasol's statement does sound a bit selfish, and he may need to face the reality that his days of a "star starter" may be over, but it also illustrates a larger issue for D'Antoni and the Lakers.

Why can't D'Antoni find a way to utilize one of the most skilled big men in the NBA? And is Gasol's career-worst season more a reflection of his declining skills or an indictment of his seemingly clueless coach?

It seems like Gasol and D'Antoni have been at odds since D'Antoni accepted the job. While most of Gasol's failure to adapt to a new system was blamed on the absence of Steve Nash, Gasol hasn't seen much real improvement since Nash returned.

D'Antoni has asked Gasol to basically play the role of a stretch forward—or a post player who is comfortable extending his game to the perimeter. And even though Gasol does possess perimeter skills, he is much more comfortable in the paint.

So, how does D'Antoni alleviate the situation? By sending Gasol to the bench?

Relegating Gasol to reserve purgatory should be viewed as another display of ineptitude from a coach who has yet to show he truly deserves to lead the NBA's most recognizable franchise into the future.

I could understand if there was a hidden strategy behind D'Antoni's decision, but this seems more like the move of a coach who is grasping at straws or anything else that can improve an increasingly desperate situation.


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