By now, over a year into their working partnership together, you’d think that Pau Gasol and Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni would have pat answers on the ready when any member of the media asks them why Gasol has struggled so much since D’Antoni took over. That they would give each other faint praise from afar, chalk up the ongoing issues as just part of the learning process, make some reference to Gasol’s lingering injuries and the hectic NBA schedule, and try to pour some baking soda on that potential oil fire.
Both player and coach didn’t exactly hurl a gas can at the situation on Thursday, but they did leave anyone reading Bill Plaschke’s discussion with the two in the Los Angeles Times wondering if this relationship will ever improve, and if the Lakers are best served attempting to find trade suitors for the big man.
"The fact that I'm not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness," he said. "When I'm not getting the ball where I want to, where I'm most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity."
"This year hasn't been ideal, certain things are not ideal for me, but that's not going to change any time soon," he said.
So why hasn't it been ideal?
"What do you think?" he said. "I'm not going to say anything, but it's easy to see. You see a guy with a certain skill set, where does it fit better, where it doesn't."
When asked about D'Antoni's sometimes pointed criticism of his toughness, Gasol shrugged.
"I don't pay attention. Mike is sometimes all over the place, I don't give much credit to things like that," he said.
When asked if D'Antoni has ever discussed this criticism with him directly, for the first time in the interview, Gasol sounded irked.
"Nope, zero. Nope, zero," he said. "Like I said, it's not ideal, but it is what it is."
It says quite a bit that Plaschke was able to get Gasol to open up so freely, but it also says quite a bit that Plaschke (and, more specifically, this Laker situation) was able to get the articulate and patient 7-footer to sound both irked and without words while offering an “it is what it is” platitude. This frustration has managed to both frustrate and flummox Pau Gasol, who eats koans for breakfast and sips poetry during timeouts. That’s significant.
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