At some point during Saturday’s practice, Kobe Bryant approached Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and addressed a problem that’s bothered him for weeks.
The topic: Bryant doesn’t believe D’Antoni’s featuring Gasol correctly in the offense. The Lakers have mostly featured Gasol in the high post and far away from the basket. In the Lakers’ 107-102 loss Friday to the Clippers, Gasol posted only two points on 1 of 6 shooting and often played on the perimeter. Bryant instead wishes Steve Nash and Pau Gasol equally run the offense.
“When you have the two best passers at their respective positions, they need to be the guys that have the ball the majority of the time,” Bryant said. “Myself and Dwight [Howard], we’re finishers. I think that’s how it should operate.”
Whether that will actually happen remains unclear.
Bryant said D’Antoni agreed with his stance. But no matter how many conversations Bryant and/or Gasol have with D’Antoni about changing his role in the offense, very little seems to change. After all, D’Antoni has acknowledged hating the word ‘touches.’
“We talked about it to get him more involved,” D’Antoni said. “But I go back to how I coach this way, whether it’s right or wrong. But I do know that the ball finds energy. If you have energy, you put yourself in every play. I’m not saying you can’t post up. But I want you to pick and roll and go. If you do that, spread out and get it down there, you’ll get it.”
In other words, D’Antoni still suggests that Gasol’s involvement in the offense will hinge mostly on how hard he hustles and less than how he’s actually featured. Gasol, who’s averaged a career low 12.2 points on 41.2 percent shooting, didn’t speak to reporters Saturday. He lamented after the game that most of his effectiveness mostly hinges on whether he makes jump shots. He strung four consecutive double digit efforts partly because of that. But Gasol wants to maintain his preference for the post since he’s excelled more in that area.
D’Antoni maintains that the Lakers still featured Gasol plenty at the elbow against the Clippers, but his effectiveness dwindled because of the Lakers’ 6 of 25 mark from three-point range. Still, Bryant wants a change.
“He’s playing out of position a little bit,” Bryant said of Gasol. “We’ll do a better job in getting him down to his sweet spots. The time that he is out on the perimeter, he’ll knock those shots down. I know he’s working on them now and he’ll be better at it.”
There’s an obvious reason why Bryant has mostly stood up for Gasol during his season-wide struggles in adapting to D’Antoni’s offense.
“I won two championships with the man,” Bryant said.” We won two championships playing through him. I know what he’s capable of doing.”
Bryant then added one more thing.
“Besides the fact that he’s a nice guy,” Bryant said, “and I like him.”
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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org