Mike D’Antoni fires back at Pau Gasol; Lakers hold meeting to clear the air
Pau Gasol has not been happy with Mike D’Antoni’s offense since D’Antoni became the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Gasol wants the ball in the post. He has been most effective during his career when he can post defenders up and work around the basket, but D’Antoni runs an offense that is not always conducive to that type of play. Gasol complained about that once again earlier this week.
“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness,” he told Bill Plaschke of the LA Times. “When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity.”
Gasol has played poorly since D’Antoni took over. He does not think that is a coincidence. When asked specifically if D’Antoni’s coaching style and system are the reasons his production has dipped, Gasol was very blunt.
Even Kobe Bryant has been critical of the way D’Antoni has utilized Gasol. After he went down with an Achilles injury last year, Kobe tweeted that Gasol needs to stand on the block and not move until he gets the ball. D’Antoni did not appreciate the criticism, just as he has not appreciated Gasol’s recent comments.
“We know how he has to be,” D’Antoni said. “We talk, but he has to produce. He knows how to play, he knows what he has to do.
“Pau is a great guy, a great player, but the focus has gone away from him a little bit in the last few years. After a while it gets frustrating, you lose your confidence, you get a little nicked up here and there, you don’t battle through it, it’s tough.”
Kobe chalked the disagreement up Gasol and D’Antonio bickering “like an old couple” and said they always do it. Gasol, however, admitted that a trade is a possibility at this point. His $19 million salary would make that a challenge.
On Friday night, ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne reported that D’Antoni held a team meeting so Gasol or any other player who had an issue could speak to him directly. Shelburne also said the Lakers believe Gasol can succeed in D’Antoni’s system and are even open to signing him to an extension. With the way things stand, that still seems incredibly unlikely.