Mike D’Antoni Has To Make System Work For Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Pau Gasol will forever be the source of trade speculation so long as he’s a productive Laker. Whether it’s the Lakers themselves looking to unload one of their few trade worthy pieces or other teams calling with offers it is inevitable.

That said Gasol’s uncertain status can’t make for a convenient excuse for Mike D’Antoni to throw in the towel on trying to figure out ways to get both Pau and Dwight Howard working on the same court at the same time for the same team.

You see before D’Antoni arrived here in Los Angeles a certain former coach who will not be named was able to figure out a championship formula utilizing both Gasol and a certain other former Lakers big man on the court at the same time.

Are you following me?

When D’Antoni took the gig he knew the roster he was inheriting. So it’s not like it was some shock on the first day when he’s trying to install his run and fun system when two skilled seven footers strolled into the gym. That he still doesn’t have an effective plan in place says a lot.

When Mitch Kupchak sought out to acquire Howard he did so with the intention of moving only one of his two bigs. Andrew Bynum was moved while Gasol stayed in place. That was intentional despite the previous Chris Paul flirtation that momentarily shipped Pau to Houston.

So it’s obvious that no matter who was going to coach the Lake Show the Gasol-Howard combo was part of the deal.

What’s not so clear is what D’Antoni’s plan is for getting the most of his twin towers. Upon Pau’s return D’Antoni shifted his starting lineup by moving Metta World Peace to the bench. The theory is that MWP can slide down to power forward allowing Howard and Gasol to rotate in and out at the five.

That scenario is fine in certain situations. But at some point D’Antoni can’t allow his system to play away from the Lakers strengths. Having two All-Star big men on the same team is an advantage no other team has in this league.

Simply put D’Antoni has to figure out a way to make this work. If the Lakers are going to win a title then they’ll have to play their best five as many minutes as possible. This season is still not lost but it can easily slip away if D’Antoni keeps forcing square pegs into round holes.