Welcome to another week and another NBA Nation Australia Roundtable! This week we welcome yet another special guest, this time from Los Angeles, California. Jabari Davis is an avid Lakers and NBA fan, co-founder of TheOpinioNation.com and regular writer for famed and well-renowned Lakers blog LakersNation.com. Recently, Jabari was also a guest on fellow Aussie blog/Podcast #BelieveTheHype with Tom Read and Benyam Kidane. We thank you, Jabari for taking the time to answer a few questions and be a part of our Roundtable.
1. With the impending sale of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle where they will likely be renamed the Sonics, what effect do you believe the move will have on both cities and the NBA as a whole? Also, should the league have thought further about whether or not to relocate the Sonics to Oklahoma City in the first place?
Jabari: The sale, in my humble opinion, will signify the renaissance of one city (Seattle) and the unfortunate end of an era in Sacramento. Sacramento, while as small-town as they come, has remained one of the more rabid fan-bases over the past couple decades. Louder than many arenas on a given night, when the Kings were at their finest (C-Webb era) the only current home court environment that would be comparable is that of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Coincidentally, those very Thunder were stolen away from “Emerald City” basketball fans back in 2008. While I completely understood the league’s desire to capitalize on the new found market in OKC given the successful trial period of the Hornets/Pelicans (post-Katrina), I never quite understood the decision to make it at the expense of a very loyal and dedicated Seattle fan base. Barring any last-minute changes, it will be phenomenal to see the game return to the area. I doubt the same thing ever happens in Sacramento.
Nick C: I’m ebullient for Seattle, and equally as devastated for Sacramento. Here’s a fan base who dedicate themselves to their team and are widely known as some of the best in the NBA. They defend their team like wolves and come out in droves every night regardless of the teams struggles. The people of Sacramento deserve a team as much as any other city does and for that reason I’m saddened for them. On the other hand, we have a team that many people thought should never have been taken away, being given back. Well, somewhat. I think it may have not been thought out correctly when they moved the team to OKC originally. While it has spawned a Western Conference champion in the Thunder, I wonder what the financial ramifications of the move have had on the league. I’m sure it was substantial as Stern and co. have made it abundantly clear they want another team back in the North West. Seattle is such a great sporting town with the Seahawks, Mariners and now, as before, the Sonics. The name change is something that had to happen, and I think many old 1990’s fans will welcome back the green and gold with open arms and it may bring back some fond memories of the days of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. I believe it’s a very positive move overall, and it will be “super” exciting to see the Sonics back once and for all. I’ll let myself out.
Sam M: Sacramento – Devastation. The Kings fans have fallen victim to businessmen. The Kings have NBA worst attendances since 2009 causing the franchise great financial pain. Combine weak attendances with a poor TV market, 4th team in a state and bumbling ownership its a recipe for failure. Ownership had the chance to change this and work to keep the team in Sac-town, considering their success in the early 2000’s they owed a little more effort to their investors and fan’s. The biggest loser in all of this are the basketball fans of Sacramento, those that supported them from day one till now. They fought until the bitter end, Kings management didn’t repay their efforts at all. Last season saw them hold on one more year but in the end the numbers were too dire. These fans might move on to another team (maybe the Warriors or even the Thunder to spite the Sonics) but there is a good chance the NBA has lost this generation of fans in the Sacramento area. Seattle – Deserved. Seattle basketball fans built a rich heritage since 1967, the Sonics were one of the most popular teams throughout the 80’s & 90’s. Every Seattle fan will feel like this is what they deserve. They have spent 4 painful years in the wilderness. They can’t be gifted Durant, Westbrook and Harden but they can rebuild upon their rich heritage. A team is better than no team – they were tricked out of a team in 2008 by Clay Bennett (owner of the Sonics) and the NBA must feel like they owe this city a team.
Nick How: I personally believe it will have a great effect on the League. Even when the whispers first came out, it was quite clear just from the social media side of NBA that people were buzzing about the potential re-emergence of the Sonics. There is a shed load of history there, and I’m still unsure as to whether the NBA will the newly relocated Seattle take on and continue from the ‘old’ Sonics’ records. I actually really like the Kings, and will be sad to see them go
personally. Yes, they weren’t great, but I always had fun watching them. They had a solid, but small hardcore following that are going to sorely miss them and they have rallied for the past few years to try and stop this relocation from happening, even the mayor of Sacramento got involved! The fact of the matter is the Kings have been rock bottom of the NBA’s attendance list for sometime and it’s never looked like changing. This year they are averaging 13,497 which is quite a difference from the top of the list Bulls at 21,744. These stats are what have made this move a reality, Seattle fans WANT their team back and am certain the crowds will come flooding back. I still believe moving the Sonics to OKC was the right move at that particular time, and has proved a successful relocation. It’s just that now Sacramento is struggling and it is now that they need relocating, simple as!
Nick R: You have to feel for the fans of the Sacramento Kings, the same way we all felt bad for the Sonics fans. They are the biggest loser in all of this, but they are also, kind of to blame as well. As much as this game is fan driven, it’s sometimes hard to forget that its a massive business that needs to make money to survive, and it became very obvious over the last few years that drastic measures were needed to ensure the survival of this team in Sacramento. Falling crowd numbers and a real lack of passion from the majority hurt where it counts and it was only a matter of time before something drastic had to happen…and the move was really inevitable. A massive shame for a once dominant team. An even bigger shame for those fans that tried in vain to save it. But what is a massive loss for the Sacramento faithful is a massive win for the city of Seattle, who has been through all of the pain before. For a city that had one of the worlds most popular sporting teams back through the 90’s, with genuine superstar players, this is well deserved. It might not be an overnight success for the city of Seattle, and it could take a season or 2 for this city to really embrace it’s new team but the Sonics are back baby…here’s hoping that this all works out for all.
2. The Eastern and Western All Stars teams were announced late last week with some expected inclusions and a couple of surprises. How do you feel about the social media voting system, and did the public get it right?
Jabari: No real surprises for me. In the true spirit of an All Star exhibition, I may be in the minority in that I am happy the NBA permits social media voting. While I see respect the argument against the fairness of overseas internet votes for individuals like Yao Ming and (recently) Jeremy Lin, I would argue the financial and globalization benefits that come from tapping into a new potential market outweigh the perception of unfairness. In terms of the public “getting it right”, there will always be room for healthy debate. That’s what makes basketball (sports in general) so fantastic. The only thing that is absolute is the scoreboard at the final buzzer. All else, is up for debate…which most sports fans gleefully embrace.
Nick C: Two clippers players, two players from the sub 500 Lakers and Kevin Durant in the west. One out of three makes any sense. I mean, Kobe & Durant should always be there, and Blake and CP3 have more than earned their spots, but I can’t get my head around the fact that people have selected 2 players who are part of the most disappointing team in history and two Clippers?!? Jeez things change in the NBA fast. Dwight Howard? As a Lakers fan I can tell you I don’t know that he’s played anywhere near well enough to deserve his spot. I feel it may be due to a lack of super star centres in the west to warrant voting for anyone but him. I could be wrong. That’s the only problem I have with the social media aspect of voting, and I think it opens people up to badly thought out decision making. The East I think is great. Rondo, KG, Melo, LeBron, Wade. They’ve all earned their stripes this season. Some take issue with KG being there but honestly, no one plays harder every night than him. It’s good to see the public get that one right. Should be a great game. Kyrie Irving makes that reserves list so much better and I think it’s high time he was recognized as one of the best point guards currently in the NBA. With Rondo now out through injury, his inclusion in the starters should be a given.
Sam M: Social media has given everyone the chance to express their opinion to any organization. This year the NBA is engaging their fans – it has welcomed their voice into their inner sanctum. The All Star game is traditionally an early guide to MVP votes, often the MVP has played in the All Star game that season. Opening up the selection process to fans is a brave move from the NBA, but its also powerful. It brings draws fans into the season. Those who have been watching feel their vote is worth something, while the casual fan can still vote for the player of moment. This year the NBA received over 15 million votes via twitter – incredible engagement with their fans. The rosters for both sides are seemingly popularity contests – I don’t necessarily agree with them but assuming the NBA counted every vote equally then the desired result was achieved. Wade & Rondo may not be playing like the 2 best PG’s in the league nor Dwight as the West’s best center. I would have preferred to see a combination Kyrie Irving, Monta Ellis or Paul George. Out West either Marc Gasol and Tim Duncan.
Nick H: I like both lineups.. Although I was shocked to see KG included as a starter. Being a Boston fan it’s great, although it does mean KG won’t be recuperating and grabbing some probably needed recovery time during that break. To be fair, this is probably his last shot at an All-Star game, and while it may have shocked some to see him included I’m personally over the moon for the guy. Kevin Garnett works hard, REALLY HARD and is still performing at a high level (despite the losses) and is famous for bringing along the development of others. For this I’m glad he has been selected. I do personally like that US as fans get to vote on this, it’s our way of making a stamp on the League. After all, what is sport without it’s fans? Also, while I do believe it has alot to do with the fans votes, you have to think that the NBA would filter some of these? There must be a huge block of people that vote for scrubs each year, surely?
Nick R: As much as I think that their needs to be some form of involvement from the fans when it comes to picking the All-Star team, I think the current system is overly flawed, even though it was a massive win this year for the NBA with a huge response from social media. For me, the public generally get’s it right. You can’t argue that players like LeBron, Melo, Durant and Kobe don’t deserve their spot in this years starting team, but when you really break it down, the rest of the starting 5’s could have easily be argued against their inclusions. Are they really the best in their position, or are the most popular? There is a big difference there. However. The All-Star game is for the fans and they should really have whoever they want playing….so maybe my answer is slightly flawed. But I would like to see selection of the starting based on performance, rather than popularity.
3. Following on from the social media aspect, how to you perceive the existence of NBA stars on Twitter and Facebook? Is it a way of connecting with fans and shedding light on their personal day to day lives, or is it a distraction that keeps them from concentrating on the task at hand?
Jabari: I don’t see a problem with it. Just as with interviews and during the off-season, it is the responsibility of the player/coach/owner to present a relatively professional image. We live in an instant gratification obsessed society, so the restricting social media access to these young men/women would actually be more of a distraction. Unlike some of us older guys that can remember a world without 10-year-old’s with smart phones, these are young men and women that have grown up with Facebook/Twitter/Instagram permanently attached to their fingertips.
Nick C: I personally believe it’s a great thing for the stars to be able to connect with their fans, but I also believe it needs to be in moderation when it comes to social media. A perfect example of how a sports star should approach twitter is LeBron James. Has always been professional and kind on Twitter, while disregarding it in a time when he needed his full focus (I.E. the 2012 Playoffs). I love hearing from LBJ, Melo, Kobe and co., but I think it’s important that they realize and understand the interwebz is a harsh place to be a celebrity and to not allow the negatives to outweigh the positives of Twitter and Facebook. I’ve seen some downright hideous replies to stars’ tweets which involve race, sexuality and a whole bunch of things that have nothing to do with basketball and are just plain old malicious. It’s that side of it that I would have to say I’m opposed to in case it did become a distraction but all in all I think it’s good for fans, and in the most part good for the player to connect with them.
Sam M: The NBA is the best professional sports league when it comes to social interaction with its fans – on an organizational level and player personnel level. Initially Facebook and Twitter were a distraction, we were getting a look inside locker rooms, team buses, practice facilities – places we would never see. NBA beat writers would comment that these were areas that should remain player only. Now its common to see TNT or ABC waiting at team buses, to see Durant post a pic of him and his boys at a club, even Money Mayweather posting pics of bundles of cash. Nothing is off limits, everyone is on the same page. Players understand the boundaries, the NBA understands it must be lenient at times with this issue, ownership appreciates this can be used to enhance their brand. Social media is a perfect fit for the NBA.
Nick H: It really depends in how it’s used. I think players using Twitter to connect with fans is great but it can be such a dangerous tool for them too. Yes, shedding light on their personal lives and their role within the game is great but once they start getting into politics or using it chastize others of for shooting off rants it’s uncalled for. We have already seen in the UK, Premiership players using it to hit back at angry fans, or even officiating which in turn ends up in crazy fines. The league have had issues with players and their social media usage before so it isn’t a new for them. I’m sure they are monitoring everyone, and would be quick to issue fines if necessary. As long as players use it sensibly, there’s no hard whatsoever!
Nick R: Fans have never been closer to their favorite players. The NBA is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the sporting world when it comes to social media and the ability of the general fan to interact with the players, teams and balling media. From conversing over Twitter, to posting a photo from the locker room or team bus onto Instagram…the NBA, the teams and the players know that they can connect with their faithful like no other time in history. But with this new found connection comes boundaries, and sometimes these boundaries are crossed and we are reminded that careful management still needs to be considered and maintained. Players especially need to consider their actions sometimes. BUT…this is really just a fraction of percentage when it comes to the impact social media has had on this game. It’s really an amazing time to be a ball fan and I really congratulate the NBA for pushing social media into the normal everyday life of an NBA team and giving us fans a chance to really see it all unfold.
4. It seems Derrick Rose has been cleared for full-contact practice this week and that the return may be closer than we once thought. In your opinion, how will this effect the team going into the second half of the season, will it change the course of the East and who should be the most concerned, the Knicks or the Heat?
Jabari: The return of Derrick Rose means the Chicago Bulls will likely be the Eastern Conference team to lose 4-2 at the hands of the Miami Heat. Reason being, the postseason is all about how you can match up with a given opponent. I think the Bulls, currently three games back, will find a way to finish in the 2nd seed, and could even challenge for the top seed if Carlos Boozer can maintain his recent resurgence in productivity. The Bulls match up extremely well with New York, and have actually already beaten them all three times they’ve faced each other this season. Unfortunate thing for Chicago, unless they are able to go out and acquire another viable scoring threat (sound familiar?), Miami’s ability to swarm, trap, and funnel Rose into LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (or even Battier) make them nearly impossible to beat without multiple scoring options.
Nick C: Depending on how he responds after the injury, I don’t see any reason why the Bulls can’t be contenders. On their day, they are better than pretty much anyone in the East and with even a minimally healthy Rose back in the lineup that only gets better. Rose really was a cornerstone for them last season and should prove vital for them heading into the playoffs against the Heat, Knicks, Nets Celtics and Hawks. I believe with Rose back in the lineup every team becomes exposed. Everyone becomes a little more vulnerable and most teams will need to tighten their defensive screws to be able to deal with the incoming Rose. Last year’s East Finals were meant to be LeBron v Rose, Miami v Chicago and the injury abruptly put a stop to it so this year I think we may even get a little taste of what was once meant to be. I think the Knicks have to be worried about their spot in the standing with Chicago on the rise. They have shown some cracks in their armor over the past few weeks and Rose’s Bulls will certainly capitalize on that.
Sam M: This return will shape the East. No one outside of the Bulls knows where Rose is at – mobility, strength and fit. This uncertainty will be reflected on the court on both sides. The Bulls are going to struggle initially to rejig the rotation, adjusting to his tendencies, setting plays and also protecting him. On the other side of the ball, opposition coaches will now have to game plan for another player, it will be especially hard not knowing what to expect. The Chicago’s coaching staff are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable in the league – you would imagine they have been planning for his return for some time. The Bulls have a roster built to match up against the Heat – adding Rose to this equation is pretty special. Miami will need eyes in the back of their head when Rose returns, these Bulls could cause some serious trouble.
Nick H: It could most definitely change the second course of their season, but it will take some time I believe. Rose is awesome, there’s no qualms about that. But, as fit and ready as he may be there will a somewhat period of adjustment for him. You can’t be out that long with that type of injury and not come back with some game rust. The Bulls are currently sat at 4th in the East and have a tidy record of 25-16, and most will say that they have played superbly without their Superstar Point Guard. The period after All-Star is key and I believe the Knicks have the most to fear. The Bulls are hot on their heels and Rose’s return is nothing but a blessing for Chicago.
Nick R: This Bulls team is one to watch….even without Derrick Rose in the starting lineup. If you had asked me at the start of the year how they would have gone, I would have been the first to tell you of their impending struggles as a unit and that without Rose they would struggle to even make the playoffs. Now we are fast approaching the All Star break and the Bulls have proven me wrong (which is awesome) and are not just competing in the East, they are genuine contenders this year…all without their MVP guard. So, with Rose likely to come back into the fold in the next month or so, it’s only natural to think that it will only have a positive impact on this team…but I want to throw a spanner into the works here, as I have a feeling that his return has the chance to rock the boat a little. Rose is the sort of player that will want the ball on his return, he will want to stamp his authority, even though he will be taking things easy initially. I really hope his transition back into this team is seamless and he slots back into his role without too many road bumps, but i have a feeling it’s going to be a little rocky for a while, and that teams like the Knicks and Heat will take advantage of this and put a bit of distance between themselves and the #3 seed.
5. It’s always the easy way out to blame a referee for bad officiating, but this season there have been a large amount of bad calls made by NBA refs and we’re all guilty of cursing them on the odd occasion. How could the league regulate, and encourage fair and consistent officiating going forward?
Jabari: In all honesty, I’ve heard the same complaint for the better part of 25 years. Whether it be “super star” calls or “home-cooking,” the league is always going to have it’s fair share of questionable calls. Supposedly, there is a rating system, where the officials are each held accountable for blown calls or team protests. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen much improvement over the past 10 years. Let’s just say, I won’t be holding my breath while waiting to see the improvement.
Nick C: Yeah I’m over it. It is so frustrating as a fan to see your team be victimized and possibly lose due to a bad call, only to have the league or the official himself say “sorry, I was wrong”. Doesn’t help us any! It sadly is something that is universal when it comes to sports though. We love to tell ourselves that the ref has it in for our team or is being paid by the opposition but we really know all it is, is a terrible call and an unfortunate mistake. Having said that, these are professional referees that are being paid a lot of money to do what they do so in my opinion there should be very little room for error. there is technology available now to support your decision or help you make one, and training camps where they are taught about professional refereeing. The NFL recently had to put replacement referees on the field after an official lockout this season, and the results were disastrous. I find myself wondering if refs such as Joey Crawford were originally replacements who somehow made their way into regular rotation. Every game I watch under Joey’s rule, he makes several god awful mistakes which I simply cannot comprehend and in a lot of cases completely disrupt a teams flow. I believe the league has to be more heavy handed with officials, and advise them that games and decisions they make are reviewed and are subject to sanction, because the worse it gets the less control the players have on the outcome of games.
Sam M: The NBA like all sports has issues with its officials. The officials are paid good coin to be on top of their game but like players can get caught up in the grind of the league. Throughout the holiday period the officiating crews have had a rough time. The NBA carefully monitors each official’s performance, spends hours training them each off season and season after time in the D-League. Outside of a refreshed hiring policy and different training the NBA is doing the best it can in encouraging fair and balanced officiating.
Nick H: Too right there has been some bad officiating. My Celtics were victim to it against the Bulls and lost the game due to a bad decision. For the most part, the NBA’s officials are superb and like in most sports we occasionally come across some shocker decisions. The officials obviously have to react to certain things that may happen in a sport and then react quickly to them which in turn is bound to have a few hiccups here and there. But, that doesn’t mean an official shouldn’t be held accountable for some of their actions. Maybe the league should introduce some form of game suspension for officials that time after time slip up? You could also suggest that if such a thing was introduced that referees could be to soft to react to situations in fear of such a thing. The logical answer is to maybe fine officials. Of course they don’t earn anywhere near as much as the players on court, but they could have a 3-strike system and fine accordingly to that. That’s the only way I see that the League can stamp out such bad officiating.
Nick R: Absolutely…Its always easy to blame the refs! and sometimes they deserve it, but overall, I think we have some of the best officiating in all of world sport. Basketball is a fast and furious game and it must be hard on the refs sometimes to really make the tough calls in an instant…we should remember this. Calls go both ways. The NBA is always looking for ways to improve the officiating at the elite level and the introduction of the video review has gone a long way in smoothing out some of the bad calls. However, I do believe that they go to it too much these days. The rhythm of the game suffers on these delays and I think another look at the way these reviews are used should be looked at. Refs should also be responsible and made accountable for their performance, and I know they are to an extent. But I think a fresh approach to the rotation of referees handling some of the bigger games could be looked at so I don’t have to yell at refs like Joey Crawford all the time. Enjoy retirement Joey!
6. In the wake of recent doping admissions by a certain cycling ‘legend’, other sports around the world have surely thought of taking extra measures to completely eradicate performance enhancing drugs. What do you believe the NBA can do in order to ensure PED’s are never used by its players?
Jabari: There’s already an anti-doping policy within the NBA. If I’m not mistaken, Rashard Lewis was one of the first (relatively) big names to get busted while a member of the Orlando Magic. He was suspended for 10 games at the start of the 2009-10 season. I haven’t heard of any other suspensions of this nature since then.
Nick C: I think the NBA did a good job in the 80’s regulating player drug habits. yes, it revolved around illicit substances such as cocaine, but they learned a valuable lesson in monitoring players who were involved with drugs and ultimately bringing their issues to the surface. That same ethos has been carried through into today’s NBA and the league prides itself on being drug free. My belief however, is that PED’s aren’t really designed for a sport like basketball. I can see why, in cycling, there is a value to it because PED’s help your stamina and longevity more than they do skill. The drug will help you last longer, but it won’t help you hit a jump shot. but, you never know and I think they league should take a leaf out of cycling’s book and introduce testing systems that are relatively fool proof. The NBA doesn’t employ the elaborate testing that cycling and athletics do, and could go a long way in proving that the NBA is drug free. Of course, some will always slip through the cracks, but at the very least is could serve as a deterrent for such activities by those who are so driven to win that they make some very bad decisions.
Sam M: Whilst the World Anti Doping Agency isnt particularly thrilled with the NBA’s lack of HGH testing, the NBA has had few and far between positive PED results. Many assume the sport is as clean as it could be. Under the new CBA:
All players are subject to four (4) random tests each season (from October 1 to June 30). All players are also subject to two (2) random tests each off-season (from July 1 to September 30). All such tests are scheduled and conducted by an independent, third-party entity and are without prior notice to the player. The NBA and the NBPA are not involved in the scheduling of any tests or the selection of players for testing.
At the moment with all the focus on PED’s it would be hard for any player to present a case in favour of any performance enhancer. The NBA regularly updates and distributes banned substance lists to their players and staff, further protecting their investment. As the NBA continues to grow in Europe and Asia they need to enhance their current drug detection programs and adhere to the WADA standards. This will ensure that all professional basketball leagues worldwide follow as well. The NBA can set an example, just like it does in so many other ways.
Nick H: I would have thought that the League would have some form of tests in place that players have to conform to. In football a player can be tested at random with only 24 hours notice. Does anybody remember Rio Ferdinand being suspended years ago for not being able to make a test? I’m not 100% on whether the League does something similar but I would have thought that they could take note of UEFA and how they handle these situations. Also, you could have one in Pre-Season that the League performs and then make each club once or twice a year perform these tests also under the close watch of the League. Luckily we haven’t had such a scandal in the League but these are some of the ways I think the League could keep a handle on such things.
Nick R: The NBA should just keep on going with their strong stance on PED. Our sport is clean because the NBA has such a strong and ethical stance on players and doping. All players are currently subject to 4 random tests each season and a further 2 in the off season and are handled by a third party without the knowledge of the player or organization. This strong stance should continue and will have a lasting impact on the league for years to come. I hope I don’t end up with egg on my face saying the league is clean…i really believe this and will be both surprised and gutted if a player fails a test. The NBA is full of the worlds greatest athletes..they don’t need them! Here’s hoping that PED’s stay out of our game forever.
7. Pau Gasol has been a cornerstone of the Lakers franchise for some time now, but last weeks was benched permanently by coach D’Antoni for up-and-comer Earl Clark. Do you believe this is the right move by D’Antoni considering the teams struggles, or is it another example of bad coaching and a slap in the face for Pau?
Jabari: I’ve been very outspoken about this very topic. Admittedly, I was not a fan of the hiring in the first place. Placing Pau Gasol at the top of the key is akin to telling Kevin Love he needs to play primarily out of the post. While he ‘could’ do that, it certainly wouldn’t be playing to his greatest strengths. Personally, I respect someone that sticks to their guns and maintains a true belief in their season. That said, if you are a basketball coach that is unable to even remotely adapt your style/system or approach to that of the talent on your roster, than I don’t think you are a very good basketball coach. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Mike D’Antoni as a professional, but I tend to call it as I see it. D’Antoni may know more about the game of basketball than any of us, but that does not mean his direction is one that makes sense. IF you are going to stick with the D’Antoni system, then I am in favor of showcasing Gasol as the team’s 6th man. In that role, you can at least play him primarily out of the post (primarily) and permit the second unit offense to run through Gasol. Ultimately, this story does not look as though it will end well..regardless of where/how/when they play Gasol.
Nick C: It’s been a tough road for Pau. Since the Lakers were swept by the Mavs in the 2011 playoffs he has been the centerpiece for any trade involving the team. He was even gone at one point in the nixed Chris Paul deal. It would have been extremely tough for the Spaniard and if it wasn’t for his love of the team he may very well have been traded already. This coaching transition has been rough for everyone, but none more than Gasol who has struggled in the D’Antoni system and ultimately succumbed to the fact he will be coming off the bench for the team. I personally am in favor of the move and believe it’s one move D’Antoni has made that makes sense for the greater good of the team. Gasol has publicly stated he doesn’t like it, but will sacrifice his personal preference for the good of the team. A rare quality in players who are demoted and shows Gasol’s maturity and desire to win as a team rather than individuals. It’s a step in the right direction, and you have seen in games against Utah and Oklahoma City that his injection off the bench, with or without Howard on the court, has been infectious. There is a long way to go for these Lakers, but they need guys like Gasol who are dedicated to the cause and willing to help in any way possible. As we draw closer to what could be the end of Dwight Howard as a Laker (let’s hope that’s not the case) it will become even more important for Pau to step up and contribute 100% of the time. I for one believe he’s still fully capable. We’ll see.
Sam M: As the Lakers continue to find their feet staring Gasol on the bench is addition by subtraction. The way I see it – this allows Gasol some time to rest while exploding off the bench. Also this buys him some time out of the spotlight. This move allows the Lakers coaching staff to sort through their player issues one by one – Gasol off the bench removes a piece from the puzzle. Bring a star off the bench allows the coaching staff to use him at points in the game where his strengths can be emphasized. Running Gasol in the second unit elevates him to leader, presenting a different challenge for the Lakers’ veteran.
Nick H: It does seem like a rather strange move by D’Antoni, but the Lakers are struggling, everyone can see that on court and in their current record. It would seem D’Antoni is throwing his hand in and hoping for the best, because of this we’re seeing some strange line-ups. Surely a sign of a coach struggling? Pau would have to be somewhat hurt? The man has performed effortlessly for years for the Lakers (with the exception of last Playoffs) and was regarded one of the smartest big-men the League has seen in years. Kobe was obviously hurt by it too, the two are close and Kobe regards Pau his wing man. They’ve through some shit together, but I think this may be where it comes to an end. Rumors suggest that Pau could moving as soon as the end of next week. This will be hard for Lakers fans to take, but if they can trade wisely and it works, all could go well in Laker-land. I personally wish Pau the best, LA or not!
Nick R: Totally the right move. We have seen the impact already this has had on Pau and also on the Lakers. Whilst it might have been a bitter pill for this veteran allstar to swallow, it’s been a blessing in disguise. He now has a chance to really lead from the front on the bench and make an instant impact when needed. His last few games against the Jazz and OKC have shown this guys still knows how to ball and can rock it with the best of them. I was ready to commit Pau to the has been pile. He has proven me wrong, and I am more convinced than ever that the Lakers will hold onto him and that if Pau can keep his chin up, he might just be the difference come the 2nd half of the season.
That wraps up another edition of NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable. Thanks again to Jabari Davis for your time and we hope to have you back on again soon. You can find Jabari via the links below. See you next time!