Tensions between Lakers big man Pau Gasol and coach Mike D’Antoni have been simmering almost since the day D’Antoni took over the team last year, and they might have finally hit a boiling point. League sources told Sporting News that the Lakers have been fielding trade offers for Gasol for a while now, and finally could find a new home for their disgruntled big man. Gasol will earn $19.3 million this year, an obstacle to any deal. But he is in the final year of his contract, making him a workable target for a team hoping to find a short-term big man who won’t sit on the books past this season. Another obstacle—the Lakers are protective of their cap space, and any deal they make would have to include enough expiring salaries to allow them to pursue a max-contract free agent in July. The Lakers are expected to have well over $26 million in cap space next summer, when stars such as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony will be on the market. Earlier this year, they granted a two-year extension worth $48.5 million to star guard Kobe Bryant. “I don’t think there is anything personal between the two guys,” one source said of D’Antoni and Gasol. “They’re both professionals. I don’t think they’re buddies or anything. But on the court, it is just not working out.” Gasol has said as much, pointing out this week that he is not getting the ball in the post, and that is why he has had a hard time being effective offensively. Indeed, he is shooting a career-low 41.7 percent from the field, averaging 14.4 points per game. He is averaging career lows in minutes (30.3) and free-throw attempts (3.3). D’Antoni has criticized Gasol’s toughness and aggressiveness in the past. But his response to Gasol’s assertion that he is not getting the ball in the post enough was simple: “Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up.” D’Antoni is right about that. According to Synergy Sports, not only is posting up the worst thing the Lakers do offensively, they are the worst in the league at it. The Lakers rank 30th in post-up efficiency, averaging just 0.656 points per possession, well behind the 29th team, Milwaukee (0.683 points per possession). Oddly enough, the 28th team is Houston (0.687 points), which features former Lakers center Dwight Howard. The notion that having Gasol and Howard together last year was hurting each’s post-up production has proven false, then. For teams interested in Gasol, the question is whether his decline is system-related or just a factor of age. Gasol turned 33 this summer, and with his many deep forays into the playoffs as part of the Lakers’ run of three consecutive Finals appearances plus his long career with the Spanish national team, he has a lot of mileage. His offense has been poor, but his defense has not been much better, and according to 82games.com, his net point production per 48 minutes has been miserable, at minus-7.5. In any deal, the Lakers would need to get back some size, as they are very thin on the front line. Center Chris Kaman is dealing with back spasms, and Jordan Hill would be the only other starting-quality big man on the roster. The Lakers are also trying to get younger, and with their 2015 (Phoenix) and ’17 (Orlando) first-round picks slated to go elsewhere, one source said a draft pick would be a key.
Pau Gasol's time as a Laker may end soon
Sporting News | Dec 14