Lakers Rumors: Mike D'Antoni Must Trust Pau Gasol in Clutch to Reach Potential

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 23, 2012

Nov 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni (left) and forward Pau Gasol during the game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If the Los Angeles Lakers are ever going to reach their potential, they need Pau Gasol plugged into the team's success. As talented as Gasol is, he's always come off a bit temperamental and sensitive.

Maybe that's why Kobe Bryant advised the big man to put his "big boy pants on" after Gasol showed some frustration after a loss in early December, per ESPN.

There has never been a team with 12 perfect personalities; the key is finding a way to keep the integral pieces as close to their comfort zones as possible. Make no mistake, Gasol is an integral piece, and the Lakers seem to realize that.

Head coach Mike D'Antoni and Gasol sat down for a one-on-one meeting to clear the air, per the Los Angeles Times. The report indicates that Gasol wanted the ball on the block more, and that he doesn't want to be benched during crunch time.

According to a source referenced in the article, D'Antoni told Gasol he would no longer be sat during clutch situations.

If the Lakers aren't going to trade Gasol—which seems to be the case—it behooves them to make the best of their current situation. This is still a team with all the pieces to win a championship.

The final verdict won't be known until we see them with Steve Nash on the floor, but the talent is there.

Gasol, Bryant, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace haven't forgotten how to play the game. They are simply struggling to play together. A point guard like Nash can go a long way in pulling things together.

I expect Nash to have the biggest impact on Gasol. This is still the man that helped lead the team to two consecutive championships from 2008-2010.

As long as Gasol knows he'll get the ball consistently and that the man controlling the ball is giving him a fair shake, he'll play both ends of the floor. That's precisely what the Lakers need to succeed.

D'Antoni has to trust his big man. At this point, he has no other choice. A frontcourt of Howard and Gasol is still formidable, but only if he has the buy-in from both. Gasol has communicated to D'Antoni what his desires are, and none of what has come out is unreasonable.

If he wants to maximize on this team's potential, he has to let Gasol be a part of the team in key situations. 


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