The Los Angeles Lakers have finally managed to string together a couple of victories, and they have done so with Pau Gasol coming off the bench. Gasol was very effective in wins over the Utah Jazz on Friday and Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, scoring a combined 31 points and hitting an impressive 14 of 18 shots from the field. Does that mean the 7-footer is happy? Not exactly.
Gasol seems like he is willing to accept his bench role as long as the Lakers are winning. At the very least, he is not planning to request a trade.
“Not right now,” Gasol told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com when asked if he would seek a trade before the Feb. 21 deadline. “I don’t think now is the time for that step to happen. Right now I’m very focused and committed to our team.
“It’s a difficult situation that we’ve been dealing with here. The last few games have been great, and we’re staying positive and we look forward to that to continue. But at the same time, we don’t need any other distractions, any more negativity. We need positive embracing, we need focus, we need to support each other. That’s where we’re at and that’s where I’m at, too.”
It would be incredibly premature to say that the Lakers have turned things around, but Gasol is right that the team does not need any distractions. L.A. could still field offers for Gasol, but he has been banged up as of late and will earn nearly $20 million next season, making him an unattractive trade piece.
“I’ve been on this team, in this city, for six years,” he said. “It’s very hard to stick around on this team, and I take pride in that. I think I’m a valuable asset and I want my role to be as big as it can be, within the well being of the team. But I don’t know if being a player that comes off the bench will be something that I’ll be able to accept long term.”
There has been some debate about whether or not Gasol is a good fit for D’Antoni’s offense all season long, but L.A. has undergone a transformation. Kobe Bryant has been running the point the last couple of games, and at the moment it seems to be working. Perhaps Gasol will earn a larger role down the stretch, but for now D’Antoni has no choice but to stick with what’s working.
H/T Pro Basketball Talk
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