Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D

Mike D'Antoni on Pau Gasol: 'He's one of the best players in the game'

What a week it has been for Pau Gasol. He has expressed dissatisfaction with his role, and cited the fact that Mike D’Antoni’s offense isn’t suiting him well. D’Antoni has fired back at him, saying he isn’t playing hard, and that Pau in the post isn’t the best play for the team. All this mess has ramped up trade rumors involving Gasol, and this situation looks ugly.

The Lakers squeaked out a win against the Bobcats in Charlotte, and although he didn’t shoot well, Gasol made some big plays on both ends down the stretch, and he and Kobe Bryant were the reason they won the game. After the game, Gasol’s coach was singing a different tune.

“This is a great player,” Mike D’Antoni said on ESPN LA 710 after the game, “He’s been a great player.” D’Antoni knows that he will need Gasol to play better in order for them to win this season, and he spoke to that as well. “I’m not going to mess with [him], his mind is already a little warped. That’s tough, I’ve been there, ” D’Antoni said in regards to Pau Gasol’s turnovers, “You’ve got to stick with it, and I will stick with him.”

Clearly, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant were trying to get him involved, as he had 18 shots on the night, and they were making a concerted effort to get him touches. “He’s one of the best players in the game,” D’Antoni proclaimed. He also praised his late game defense, and you could tell that D’Antoni was trying to patch up some of the issues, and it may have shown that this could be overblown.

The Lakers are all about cap space and the future, so a trade involving Gasol is unlikely. They will most likely have to take some salary back that is on the books beyond this season, and that would be a huge hit to their plans. Gasol may not be in purple and gold next season, but he will most likely remain there this season, so his relationship with the coach will have to improve one way or another.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers Mike D'Antoni Pau Gasol

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