Gasol, Next Year?


Laker fans seem relatively sure that Pau Gasol will be gone by the end of this year.  The Lakers have not talked about an extension, which starts earlier in the season for the players that are the most coveted.

Pau Gasol is no longer among the most coveted.

Kobe Bryant is, despite the injury, and already has a contract extension.

March 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) shoots against the defense of San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This all started with the signing of Mike D’Antoni.  Pau Gasol tried to adjust to Mike D’Antoni’s offensive scheme, developing three-point range, getting out of the low-post area, and breaking out of everything that made him a successful player.  Even with Dwight Howard on the team, the Lakers were losing games they should have won.  When Kobe Bryant took over the offense late in the season and played well over 44 minutes per game, Gasol was getting more touches in the low block, and the team overall was more successful.  They managed to make the playoffs at the 7th seed.

Laker management chose Mike D’Antoni has his progressive style of coaching offense.  It works tremendously well for the Miami Heat, but at least Miami plays defense.  Other great teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and L.A. Clippers.  They are all near a .700 record for the regular season.  They do it playing a style more related to how Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol won championships.

Mike D’Antoni went away from the best strength of the Laker team, the one skill they had over the rest of the league, the post up game.

Pau Gasol fought off injuries early in the season.  He doesn’t look like he has any kind of lift left.  Still, his skill-set is so great, he’s been averaging 20 points and over 9 rebounds per game, shooting over 50% for the month of March. It would be nice to see consistent touch left on his shot as well, but now he’s getting touches in isolation in the paint while blending in with the uptempo offense.  His post game still has great value in the league. One can only imagine what he could do on guard-oriented teams such as the Miami Heat.  No doubt he would succeed, and find ways for the rest of his teammates to succeed as well.

Kobe Bryant wants to fight for a championship in 2014.  Signing Pau Gasol to a large contract for one, or even two years, could be harmful to free agency hope.  The upside is, it would give Kobe Bryant a chance to ride into the sunset with his partner in crime.  But, deep down, Kobe Bryant wants to win the championship, regardless of who his teammates are.  Pau Gasol may not be in the picture.  The Laker fans recognize this.  Maybe Kobe Bryant does too.

There’s no doubt that Laker management wants to win a championship again.  They have a vision for the Laker team.  The question is, whether Pau Gasol will be an integral part of that vision.  Under Mike D’Antoni, that isn’t the case.  All that matters is, what Jim and Jeanie think.

There’s no contract extension on the table.

It seems they have made up their mind.