An unhappy Pau Gasol, feeling underappreciated after helping L.A. win titles and reach Finals since his arrival in 2008. And a stressed Mike D’Antoni, clearing the distractions of criticism and expectations by doing what he thinks is right with his rotation. Which doesn’t appear to have a primary place for Gasol’s particular, not-so-fleet-of-foot skill set.
The outcome in the Lakers’ long-ago hometown Friday – a victory over the Wolves that got uncomfortably tight for a stretch and 22 points, 12 boards and three blocks for Gasol – isn’t going to significantly change anything about the dynamic. When Dwight Howard is fit to return, he’ll start and Gasol won’t. Simple.
That figures to keep the veteran forward’s name in play right up through the Feb. 21 trade deadline. If he’s still around beyond that, either the Lakers received low-balled in offers for him (relative to their expectations) or they’re keeping Gasol around for Dwight insurance, should the All-Star center end up exiting as a free agent or as damaged goods for the balance of the season.