Pau Gasol is once again on the trading block. Kobe Bryant isn’t happy, and unlike girls who just got dumped, he feeds his depression by taking a huge amount of field goals. Dwight Howard can’t make the Los Angeles Lakers good on defense or become a remotley decent free throw shooter. Mike D’Antoni is trying to manage something a bit over his head.
The easy player to pick on at the moment is Pau Gasol. They keep telling us he’s simply in the wrong system and that he’s still one of the best big men in the NBA. Ignore the 12.6 points on 42% from the field numbers. That’s all D’Antoni’s fault, they say. Not the management who fired a head coach who shouldn’t have been there at the first place and hired another one without even thinking if he’s unique offensive style of basketball, not something he’s going to change any time soon, is what their roster really needs. Who cares about chemistry and fitting pieces: We’ve got superstars. I’m pretty sure that was the train of thought in Laker land when all decisions were being made.
TheGreatMambino on Silverscreenandroll.com came up with a few trade options for the Lakers regarding Gasol, who on hand is getting told by Kobe Bryant to put his big boy pants on and on the other hands gets strokes to his fragile ego.
In summary, those that will work: Just one. Sending Gasol to the Utah Jazz for Paul Millsap, Raja Bell and Marvin Williams. Millsap fits much better to the perimeter shooting big man role while probably able to do a better job on defense at the moment than Gasol. Marvin Williams isn’t going to score a lot of points, but he’s a good defender and a suitable option to come off the bench. Raja Bell is washed up, but you need someone for the contract issues to fill in the trade.
He also suggests a few more trades that might sound kinda blockbuster, but don’t really work. The biggest of them is Pau Gasol for Amare Stoudemire. Same position, same high profile teams, but while Gasol might work well in New York, under the current system, Stoudemire will once again fall into the spot Gasol did in the Mike D’Antoni system, which means that all of his advantages and pluses won’t have any use on the floor.
Besides Gasol, the Lakers are having more trouble. Defense, for one. They’re allowing 97.5 points per game, which is 14th in the NBA. Not terrible, but with their offense so up and down, not even the presence of Dwight Howard and a way over the top Metta World Peace is helping a team with a head coach that has never shown the slightest interest in improving his teams on defense. They’ve lost five of their last seven games and have given up more than 100 points on five of these games.
Then there’s the Kobe Bryant issue which is also a Dwight Howard issue, with two sides to it. There’s always the argument regarding Bryant and his shooting obsession. Is it good for the Lakers, or is it bad? Does he shoot because no one else is doing it, or doing it well, or is he ball hogging? Bryant is averaging 27.9 points per game this season. He’s averaging 33 points when the Lakers lose, 21.6 when they win. These are just numbers, but when you also look at the fact that Dwight Howard didn’t take a single shot in the fourth quarter, it becomes more than numbers.
The Lakers actually were at their best when there was no head coach. Just Bernie Bickerstaff as the interim. No real system, just a bunch of players playing to the best of their talents. It worked better than it did with Brown or D’Antoni, trying to suit this team up with offensive systems that just won’t do.
We’ll finish with Dwight Howard, who continues the Shaquille O’Neal legacy by being an easy target for hack-a-player tactics and complying by making only 46.8% of his free throws so far this season. The problem is that Bryant isn’t the kind of player he was a decade ago, despite the scoring numbers. Howard isn’t O’Neal. Will finish with what the great Tolkien once wrote: All that is gold does not glitter.
There’s more to do that, but it loses context. It’s about a line of kings that’s been lost and can be awoken again. That doesn’t seem to be the case with these Los Angeles Lakers.