New York, NY (Sports Network) - I heard a very interesting rumor. New Orleans
Hornets coach Monty Williams apparently believes strongly in pounding the ball
down low and initiating the offense from the inside out. So with that
philosophy, he's told Ryan Anderson, who's noted for his 3-point shooting, not
to shoot 3's anymore, and to stay exclusively in the low post. This is despite
the fact that Anderson is neither comfortable nor effective playing there.
The other interesting caveat to this story is that Williams supposedly called
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni to bounce the idea off him and D'Antoni said he's
exactly right in having players adapt to his system and to heck with their
individual strengths and the way they're used to playing the game.
I hope you've realized by now this is simply a fictitious story made to
highlight how ridiculous D'Antoni's thinking is when it comes to Pau Gasol and
just his general lack of common basketball sense.
I hear so much talk of how Gasol needs a change of scenery, but all I see is
that he needs a good coach, whom he didn't have in Mike Brown or the current
Anderson's name, by the way, comes up pretty often in speculating about
players whom the Lakers might target if they were looking to deal Gasol. I
find it absurd that D'Antoni would prefer a stretch four like Anderson, who
doesn't rebound or defend very well, and doesn't make teammates better over
someone as skilled as the four-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion in
But it certainly isn't a surprise, since this is D'Antoni's M.O. That's why
he's chosen to close some games with Gasol on the bench in favor of Antawn
In Sunday's embarrassing home loss to the Orlando Magic, Gasol subbed out of
the game with 6:07 left and the Lakers up 84-83. The Magic proceeded to put up
29 points with Gasol on the bench and pulled away to win, 113-103.
Gasol finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes.
After the game, Kobe Bryant was asked about his teammates' struggles and he
was pretty blunt in his response.
"Put your big-boy pants on," Bryant said. "Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't
whine about it. You can't complain about it. You have to master what it is
that we're trying to do here and Pau is talented enough and he's good enough
to be able to do that."
Gasol can't do anything right now as he's sidelined with tendinitis in his
knees that has him listed as day-to-day and forced him to miss Tuesday's
game in Houston that resulted in another Lakers' loss, as they blew a 13-point
fourth quarter lead.
I was very surprised that Bryant basically supported D'Antoni in wanting Gasol
to adjust to the system rather than play to his strengths.
A report even broke Tuesday that stated that Mitch Kupchak spoke recently
with Gasol's representatives and told them they would explore a trade if he
couldn't make the adjustment.
But Bryant did a complete 360 yesterday, and in my opinion came to his senses,
when he addressed Gasol's situation.
"I love Pau like a brother," Bryant said. "I really do. I want him to dominate
like I know he can."
And Kobe made a point of how Gasol should be utilized in the offense.
"I want him to dig in and be determined, not discouraged," Bryant added. "We
should go to him more on the post because he can dominate from there as he has
to the tune of two rings. I'm sure we will adjust and figure out a balance
when he comes back healthy."
My question is why this isn't obvious to D'Antoni.
He even witnessed firsthand in the Olympics as an assistant coach with the USA
basketball team, Gasol manhandling the United States' front line in the gold
medal game, which included the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson
Chandler, as he led Spain to a near major upset.
I asked Kevin Durant, a member of Team USA, following the Thunder's win in
Brooklyn last night what came to mind when I mention the gold medal game and
Pau Gasol, and his response was, "he's a beast."
I commented that his coach doesn't seem to think so, referring to D'Antoni,
and Durant said he wasn't aware of the situation. I said he doesn't want him
to play in the low post, and he said, "You know that coach likes to spread the
D'Antoni doesn't seem to get the concept that having a low-post threat like
Gasol impacts the game more than a perimeter player like Jamison or Anderson.
If you have guy who can score down low, it creates double teams and open shots
for teammates, and with the defense scrambling on the double-teams, it opens
up the offensive boards, because it's difficult to find a man to put a body
It's no coincidence that almost all of the great power forwards to play the
game, such as Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and Kevin McHale were
guys that played great with their back to the basket.
And of course, with Gasol, you also get one of the best passing big men in the
game and a shot-blocking presence. You don't get that with the likes of
Jamison and Anderson.
I highly doubt that coaches like Gregg Popovich or Doc Rivers, or team
executives such as Pat Riley or R.C. Buford would prefer to have Jamison or
Anderson on their roster over Gasol.
Will Mike D'Antoni ever get it? I certainly wouldn't bet the house on it.
Offense is the foremost thought to him and everything else is an afterthought.
It seems if a player can score the ball, D'Antoni will ignore any other
deficiencies. On the flip side, a guy who can rebound and defend, but isn't
that good offensively, will get mostly overlooked.
That's been the case for Lakers' reserve big man Jordan Hill, who has seen his
playing time diminish significantly since D'Antoni take over.
Hill, who was acquired late last season from Houston Rockets in the Derek
Fisher deal, had some very good playoff moments, and general manager Mitch
Kupchak thought enough of his play to re-sign the restricted free agent to a
two-year contract for nearly $8 million.
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