CHICAGO — As he’s often done for the past two years, Pau Gasol reiterated his hope to stay with the Lakers despite a diminished role.
“I’d love to and I want this to work for us,” Gasol said following the Lakers’ 95-83 loss Monday to the Chicago Bulls at United Center. “I feel like I’m a part of this team and part of this franchise. I love to play here for as many years as possible because I identify myself with the team. I want it to work.”
Plenty of the NBA analysts on TNT argued otherwise.
“If the Lakers are going to play with the style over the roster, that means they have to do something with Pau Gasol trade-wise,” TNT analyst Steve Kerr said. “This system that Mike D’Antoni runs is not suited for two big men…and we’ve known that. We’ve seen the system work so well in Phoenix with a smaller, more versatile lineup. It didn’t work as well in New York with bigger players. The style is just much more suited for playing a guy like [Lakers forward] Earl Clark who can run and guard perimeter players.”
“I really disagree with Pau Gasol being on the bench,” TNT analyst Kenny Smith said. “If he’s not good enough to start on your team, you can trade him because he’s good enough to start on any other team in the NBA. [The Lakers] have to trade [Gasol] because of the system they’re running. In this system there is no benefit for having two guys who can make things happen in the box. It’s a difficult situation only because of the system that is in place.”
“The reason why Earl Clark is starting is because he’s got more aggression than Pau [Gasol],” TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal said. “Mike D’Antoni is one of the easiest coaches to play for. He’s offensive-minded and it’s every player’s dream to play for an offensive-minded coach. When you’re set isn’t there, he gives you the ability to make a move and create for yourself. [Gasol is] not being aggressive, so he’s not in the lineup.”