After another frustrating loss, the Los Angeles Lakers are now further along in the process of facing the reality of playing second fiddle in the city, yet Pau Gasol is apparently unwavering in his support of his teammates and status on the team.
Even if that means not playing at all.
However, Gasol will regret not figuring out a way to get away from the Mike D'Antoni Lakers. This is not the Phil Jackson group that made him a champion; the offense is different, and his talents just don't seem to mesh with any of the units that D'Antoni employs.
No, oh, that's radical. I still believe. I still have faith in what we have. I still have faith that I can be a big part in helping this team succeed. Right now, I'm not being able to do that very often.
Gasol has been upset with his role on the team, but apparently not enough to request a trade from the franchise that brought him his two NBA championships and a great relationship with teammate Kobe Bryant.
Here's what Gasol had to say about his role in the offense:
It's difficult sometimes because it's not up to me to get involved. I'm trying, but the times that I am at the elbows are the times that I get more involved and can make more plays from there, but it's not consistent.
It wasn't there last night, and Gasol did his best impersonation of an NBA player from the bench during the final frame. To add insult to injury, Jordan Hill was down with an injury, and D'Antoni still wouldn't turn to his former All-Star power forward.
J.A. Adande noted much of the same during the broadcast:
Jordan Hill's out with an ankle sprain, and still no Pau Gasol in 4Q. Not gonna question D'Antoni this time, as Pau's giving them nada.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 5, 2013
As a cog in the D'Antoni puzzle, it appears that Gasol just doesn't fit. With all the rumors that have surrounded his role on the team and possible trade scenarios (Josh Smith, Andrea Bargnani), it appears that there will have to be a breaking point with regards to the Lakers' insistence on trading a former fan favorite.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching. Taking a professional's approach, Gasol appears content with sticking it out and working on playing better from the perimeter and figuring out how to play in the course of this offense.
As the losses mount up and the playing time continues to decrease, Gasol will regret that decision.
There's no problem with him not asking for a trade. In fact, too many athletes put their names on the trading block when things start going wrong. I commend Gasol for his decision to put the team's needs ahead of his own.
However, for the good of the team, Gasol needs to go. Sure, his $19 million salary will be hard to move in a deal, but there are countless teams that would love to have his scoring presence and veteran leadership around.
For the good of the Lakers, who need a power forward capable of stretching the floor and leaving Dwight Howard alone to work in the paint, Gasol needs to get gone. For the good of Gasol, he needs to rediscover his abilities in an offense that will allow him to work the baseline and the elbow—two areas that are off-limits right now in L.A.
We don't know if Gasol will be traded before the deadline. We do know that he isn't campaigning for a trade, despite one of the only cases I can remember where a player should have been dealt based on his current team.
Steve Nash is the other.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team. You can follow him on Twitter @DowntownEG.