Report: Lakers, Mike D'Antoni Permanently Bench Pau Gasol in Favor of Earl Clark

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Report: Lakers, Mike D'Antoni Permanently Bench Pau Gasol in Favor of Earl Clark

Head coach Mike D'Antoni has announced that he will be benching forward Pau Gasol in favor of Earl Clark in the Los Angeles Lakers starting lineup, effective immediately.

The announcement comes a day after Gasol had his most productive game of the year, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting against the Toronto Raptors Sunday night.

There has been chatter all year long about bringing Gasol in off the bench. That way, the Lakers will have the ability to split time between focusing in on him and Dwight Howard in the post, highlighting the positives each player shows.

With the season-ending injury to backup big man Jordan Hill, the move makes even more sense. Plus, the Lakers will be able to run smaller than normal.

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register talked to D'Antoni, who said he already talked to Gasol about the move:

D'Antoni already talked to Pau Gasol about the switch to the bench. About that, D'Antoni said: "That's life. He understands." D'Antoni also said: "It also puts Pau in his natural position. He's one of the best centers in the league." Gasol will get some post touches off the bench, and the Lakers hope Clark changes them with athleticism. D'Antoni said it gives them "a little more bounce to our step.

 

Of course, the move does raise a few concerns, even if it does seem to be the best move at the moment for the franchise.

 

Even further, it's got to be on everyone's mind that Gasol has lost a bit of his value now that Dwight Howard is clogging the paint. He's no longer the go-to scorer down low.

That has to lead to some talk about a trade in the near future, and Gasol has even said as much himself.

It's going to be an interesting few weeks, depending on how the Lakers play with Pau coming off the bench.

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