Pulling into a Staples Center parking lot Tuesday afternoon, I encountered the Lakers' biggest, shaggiest dilemma.
"Hey, good news, Pau Gasol is coming back tonight, right?" said the attendant.
"Yeah, and you still probably want him traded, right?" I said.
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"Well, yeah, he is a little soft."
Can we take all this talk and park it? Just pull it into a back space on the bottom level and forget it about it? You want to jabber about shipping out one of the smartest and most skilled big men in basketball, can you do it outside of the glare of Gasol's championship rings and endless basketball IQ?
Gasol's return to the Lakers lineup in a 101-100 victory over Charlotte on Tuesday night reminded me how sick I am of hearing folks say the Lakers would be better off without him.
No, the Lakers would be better off with a system that fits him. They would be better off with a game plan that accommodates him. You don't trade him. You work with him. You adjust around him. You win with him, which is exactly what they did Tuesday night.
In the first half of that game, Gasol did all the little things that kept us in it. He got blocks, rebounds, assists, stole the ball, scored a little bit, and even hustled the whole game. This is the Pau Gasol we are going to need, at a more consistent degree, if we are to take that whole championship talk seriously.
He faded a little bit in the second half, and the few times he did post up, he was unsuccessful. Regardless he was very useful. I hope from this point on he can do those little things. If he hit his open jump shots, it would not be a question of how valuable he is to this team.
Pau Gasol, if you want to take your role on the team seriously, and stop being benched in games, you need to work on your jump shot, and hit that thing so consistently. If you can't do that, I can't guarantee you will be OUT of trade talks. Thats just the way the business works my friend.