As reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Gasol has struggled to adapt to the new up-tempo "Seven Seconds or Less" offense of new head coach Mike D'Antoni. That has resulted in declining stats for Gasol, who discussed the adjustments and analogized how he was trying to still be a viable contributor to the Lakers' NBA championship hopes:
As a professional, you adjust to a different position in your company and try to do your best so the company still finds you a valuable asset and the company still performs as well as it did before.
Gasol hasn't proven to be as valuable of an asset as he has been in the past—particularly in Phil Jackson's triangle offense—as he is averaging career lows in points per game (13.1) and field goal percentage (.423).
But it would be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to dump Gasol this early on in the 2012-13 season. It's far too premature to label the 32-year-old as "past his prime" or a total misfit for the current D'Antoni scheme.
If the objective is indeed to win a title, Gasol has plenty of experience doing that. He has been in LA to snag two championship rings—and has played exceptionally well during those runs.
Newly acquired point guard Steve Nash has yet to play one game under his former head coach, and his pick-and-roll style should translate very well for Gasol and give him many wide-open looks. That should only enhance his lackluster shooting percentage and help him assimilate into the offense better.
There has been zero time under D'Antoni, yet Bresnahan's colleague Bill Plaschke speculates that Gasol may have already sealed his fate in L.A.
You have to wonder if Pau Gasol hasn't already traded himself...— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) November 28, 2012
What other options do the Lakers have at this point, though?
Antawn Jamison would seem to be a good fit due to his perimeter-oriented game. Unfortunately, he is definitely in a state of perpetual decline, and has failed to find his groove early on as well.
If the perception is that Gasol's production is nosediving, it would be hard to get anything of much value in return. By holding onto him for now, the Lakers' patience will be greatly rewarded.
Nash's return should help Gasol improve, which will make him a hotter market commodity.
Even if it doesn't, there aren't enough expendable assets in LA to justify a trade for Gasol—because it would be simply impossible to upgrade the power forward position.
As underwhelming as Gasol's season may be thus far, he still has to be considered one of the top-flight power forwards in the league. Until he undergoes a stretch of far more than 15 games proving otherwise—and with a full-strength L.A. roster—GM Mitch Kupchak had better hold tight to the seven-foot Spaniard.
Otherwise, it may come back to bite the Lakers should they fall short of their extremely lofty expectations.
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