When you go from a key contributor to two NBA Championship teams to a bench player, it can be safe to assume that a player may not exactly be pleased with his changed role. This is the case for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who has been demoted to a bench player and has seen his minutes decrease.
Although the Lakers are now riding a 3-game winning streak, not everyone is happy in LA. The latest issue stemming from Gasol being benched late in the 4th quarter against the New Orleans Hornets last night. When asked about how he felt about it, Gasol offered these comments.
“I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate.”
“It’s a challenge. We’re challenged every day, and I’m challenged every day to keep my calm and keep my peace and not let my emotions take over my words.”
Pau, who’s battled with injuries this season, had triple-7′s last night (7 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), but only played 21 minutes. When he left the floor, the Lakers had a comfortable 10 point lead heading into the fourth.
For what it’s worth, Mike D’antoni immediately addressed the benching post-game.
“They went small. I couldn’t get Pau back in there because of the lineup change.”
We’ll have to see how the dynamic between Gasol and coach D’antoni continues to play out over the season. I’m not exactly sure they’re the best of friends.