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Remember what Pau Gasol had to say in May regarding his declining role (via the Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina):
"It has been difficult at times to be a third option," Gasol said this week. "I've never experienced that in my career probably since I was very young. I still gave it my best and we'll see how it looks next year. But it has been challenging at times."
He made those comments after the Lakers were eliminated in five games by the Oklahoma City Thunder and he made them amidst criticism from Kobe Bryant regarding a disappointing Game 4.
But, if Gasol thought he was becoming increasingly marginal then, you have to worry about what happens now.
Sure, there are reasons to be somewhat hopeful. Dwight Howard may be more willing than Andrew Bynum to defer and take a back-seat scoring role, allowing Gasol to get more touches. On the other hand, he may be eager to prove himself and live up to whatever hyperbolic expectations his celebrity implies.
The good news is Steve Nash will give Gasol countless pick-and-roll opportunities and help him make the most of his superb mid-range game. And, Kobe Bryant just might wind up taking fewer shots in a Princeton offense that prefers ball movement to isolation.
That could bode well for Gasol, too.
At the end of the day, however, there are only so many shots to go around. The issue isn't so much that any of these guys will be counting—you know Steve Nash couldn't care less about how many shots he takes.
The issue is that the rest of these personalities may start to clash if things aren't clicking on the floor. We've seen signs of it in the past and it's unclear whether Howard will be an improvement over Bynum in the ego department.