Lakers Trade Rumors: Pau Gasol Deal Would Prove LA Is All-In with Mike D'Antoni

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IJanuary 23, 2013

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 26:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 26, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

This might not be something Los Angeles Lakers fans want to hear, but if the team does go ahead and pull the trigger on a deal sending Pau Gasol to another team, it will show that the Lakers and their management are all-in with head coach Mike D'Antoni.

Trade rumors for Gasol re-ignited recently after his comments in reaction to being benched. Gasol made his feelings known in an interview with TNT's Craig Sager:

Pau Gasol I talked to before the game. He is not at all happy with the decision. He says, 'I have never been a role player in my life and I don’t like it right now.' I said, 'what about the possibility that maybe your time with the Lakers could be coming to an end at the All-Star break or the trade deadline?' He said 'it certainly looks like a possibility to me.'

Lakers fans have quickly grown tired of the defenseless team that they cheer for on a regular basis. It's safe to say that this knowledgeable fanbase, as well as anyone with any clue of what goes on in the NBA, knew that this was coming once D'Antoni took over for fired head coach, Mike Brown.

Defense has never been D'Antoni's forte anywhere he's coached. His run-and-gun offensive system has never allowed for much resistance on the other end of the floor and the goal of each and every game is to simply outscore the opponent, regardless of the amount of points surrendered by D'Antoni's defense.

Gasol's game is nearly a polar opposite to what D'Antoni likes to do.

The Lakers big man has always been a solid rebounder who plays good defense. On offense, Gasol is a great post presence and has a solid mid-range game to go along with that.

The problem is, though, that Gasol isn't exactly the kind of athletic big man that fits into D'Antoni's uptempo offensive approach, especially at the age of 32 and with bad knees. Gasol is simply a bad fit for this team and cannot get up and down the floor in the way that D'Antoni would like him to.

And that is despite of the fact that Gasol is a good pick-and-roll player, which is another important part of D'Antoni's offense.

Still, one thing that can't be ignored is how much Gasol has meant to this team during his tenure in Los Angeles.

Gasol was a vital part to both of the Lakers' championship runs in 2009 and 2010. Trading away a piece like that would mean that the Lakers are going in a different direction than that of their past successful rosters.

And that direction would be right toward D'Antoni and his unique approach to the game of basketball. If Los Angeles brings in a player for Gasol that is a better fit for D'Antoni's system, that will seal the deal that D'Antoni is the coach of this team, no matter what happens this season.

Teams don't just trade away important players like Gasol in order to bring in a player who fits the specific system of a head coach if that coach is on a short leash.

But after the horrendous start and poor play that this team has displayed with D'Antoni on the bench on this season, the Lakers might want to think twice about giving into whatever demands their coach might have.

After all, this team has won two championships with Gasol on the roster, so there's no reason to believe that he is the problem now—especially with the newly added talents of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

That being said, the problem really lies in D'Antoni's coaching and the lack of defense that the Lakers play as a result of it. It's the sole reason why Los Angeles shouldn't trade Gasol and commit to D'Antoni for the long-term.