Pau Gasol was the subject of direct hits from his coach Mike D'Antoni today at a media session after the Lakers practice in Oklahoma City.
In the run up to the team's game tonight against the Thunder, Pau Gasol took to L.A. sports talk radio and spoke with L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke about his dissatisfaction with his role in the offense.
In an article titled "Could this be the best Paul Gasol is going to be?" Plaschke got this quote from Gasol:
"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."
Intensity and aggressiveness. What are they synonyms for?
Today it was D'Antoni's time to fire back to reporters. ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne was on site and heard D'Antoni say that Gasol might be using all the talk about his woes to cosmetize lack of effort.
"If you don’t play hard, it’s hard to figure out because you don’t know what works and what doesn’t.
Everybody, to a man, we've just got to play harder and worry about things less. That's one thing, if they just don't want to do it that way. Then you have to accept it or not. But there's no reason to not play hard."
Yup, he went there.
D'Antoni also used what could be the nuclear option with his center, who is in the final year of a contract that pays him about $19 million for this season.
He went on to say that the athletes know how to queue up on the "pay stub line. They know where that is." Clearly agitated with what he sees as Pau's whining for no good reason, the Lakers coach has chosen to stir it up.
It's one thing when that criticism came from former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Pau and Phil were tight, and he knew that the crap was coming from someone who liked him.
Gasol is not so sure about D'Antoni. After last season's mess with Dwight Howard pushing Pau out of the paint to the perimeter, even the three-point line, and the Spaniard being miserable about it the talk was that with D12 gone, Pau could reclaim the low post.
It ain't happening and the two are at loggerheads about why.
Call it what you will, but the Gasol trade talk is back in full swing. It's been on and off since the ill-fated trade o/f Pau to Houston, with Lamar Odom slated for New Orleans in exchange for Chris Paul. That was torpedoed by the league office but trade talks haunted him throughout that season and into part of last season.
Now he's a juicier asset to tempt another team because of his expiring contract. No hit to someone's cap number. Can Kobe make peace between these two?
He's got his own fish to fry with his slow acclimation to the Lakers offense after eight months of surgery then rehab on his Achilles. Then there's the Jim Brown controversy.
Stay tuned Lakers fans. Just another day in paradise.