Pau Gasol has had a rough start to the 2012-13 season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, but benching the 32-year-old when he comes back from injury isn't the right move for this team.
Per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, bringing Gasol off the bench appears to be a realistic option for coach Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers.
The Lakers are debating whether to bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis, said a person familiar with the team's thinking.
Gasol has struggled mightily this season, averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, both career lows.
The Lakers are trying to decide how a demotion to the bench would affect Gasol. If they determined it would be adverse, they'd keep him in the starting lineup.
This is a bad idea altogether. If the Lakers are wondering what effect moving Gasol to the bench would have on the veteran, they can look no further than this article.
Gasol has been a lifetime starter in the NBA and could very well be a future Hall of Famer when his career is over. Granted, all players decline at some point or another, but few former stars handle moving to the pine well.
The Lakers' power forward has already proven he can be a bit sensitive when his feelings are hurt, so one can only imagine how Gasol would react to this decision.
So, there has to be a better way to handle Gasol moving forward. Let's take a look at a few things the Lakers can do to help this situation besides benching Gasol.
Wait for Steve Nash to Return
This one is a no-brainer solution for Los Angeles.
Gasol has barely logged any minutes with Nash on the floor in the regular season, so naturally there's no telling how these two will co-exist. But it doesn't figure to be too difficult of a match as Nash is one of the best facilitators in the game today.
Also, Gasol is a great pick-and-roll power forward and D'Antoni loves to run that play. Nash has the ability to run it to perfection and Gasol has the talent to finish it.
Furthermore, Gasol is a great passer and it's ball movement that makes D'Antoni's system work. There's absolutely no reason to believe that Gasol can't work it out in this offense. Fans and management just need to be patient until Nash returns to help it along.
Trade for Amar'e Stoudemire
Say what you want about Stoudemire and his injury concerns for the long term, D'Antoni would love to have his former star player from the Phoenix Suns join him in Los Angeles. The transition from New York to Los Angeles would be seamless for STAT, as he has already played and thrived in D'Antoni's system.
For the entirety of his career, STAT has been a pick-and-roll stud and that still holds true today. The only problem in New York last season was that nobody was able to run the pick-and-roll with him all that well.
With the Lakers, STAT would be paired with his former teammate, Nash, and these two would pick up right where they left off in Phoenix.
For the Knicks, this trade would make all the sense in the world. Gasol fits exactly what the Knicks need at the moment, namely defense and rebounding.
Gasol would give New York another seven-footer for opposing offenses to try and score on, which would be an upgrade from the defensively challenged Stoudemire. Also, Gasol is a far better rebounder than STAT and the Knicks currently rank as one of the worst in the NBA in that category.
Both players have knee issues, so it's a fair trade in that sense as well. However, STAT is a few years younger than Gasol, so Stat likely has more left in the tank.
What's the Best Solution?
There's no doubt that keeping Gasol and waiting for Nash to return is the final answer here. If these problems persist and Gasol simply can't get it done, then trade options need to be explored.
But the trade deadline is still months away, so the Lakers must figure this out by then.
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