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NBA Oregon Trail: Count the Ringz with the Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Oregon Trail Steve Snakebite

It's #TrailTuesday, which means it's time to send another NBA team down the Oregon Trail. After the disaster that was the Knicks excursion last week, it was time for the Lakers to take to the trail. The 2013-14 season was one the Lakers' organization and fans would like to forget, but today was a chance at redemption. Sweet, sweet Oregon Trail redemption.

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Gasol is day-to-day with Respiratory Infection

Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Steve Blake are all currently sidelined with injuries – Pau Gasol can now be added to the list of the Los Angeles Lakers’ ailing players.

The Lakers big man did not travel with the team to Utah on Thursday for their game against the Jazz on Friday due to a lingering upper respiratory infection.

This will be the second game Gasol has missed all season after sitting out on Saturday with the same issue. Los Angeles was crushed by the Golden State Warriors, 102-83.

Gasol played the next two games, which both resulted in losses to the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat. He missed practice on Thursday to visit with an ear, nose and throat specialist.

The 33-year-old, however, still might suit up if he is felling better.

“Like anything else, you’re not 100 percent physically and you’re going to have shorter times of energy and stuff like that,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said when asked about Gasol. “He’ll get over it. He’ll be fine.”

In 28 appearances, Gasol is averaging 14.7 points 44.6 percent shooting along with 9.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

 

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Will the Lakers Trade Pau Gasol?

Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling – Paul Gasol is no exception. The four-time All-Star is averaging 14.4 points on a career low 41.7 percent shooting. He is allowing several frontcourt players to post career high scoring numbers, such as Toronto’s Amir Johnson (32 points), New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (32), Washington’s Nene (30) and Denver’s Timofey Mozgov (23). His lack of execution on both sides of the floor, combined with his tension filled relationship with coach Mike D’Antoni has forced the Lakers to bring up the possibility of shipping the 33-year-old off.

Shelburne, however, did also point out that the Lakers have yet to engage in trade talks. Los Angeles may even be open to resigning Gasol.

Comments Gasol made on Thursday caused some attention due to the controversial nature of what he said:

“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “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… This year hasn’t been ideal, certain things are not ideal for me, but that’s not going to change any time soon,” he said.

D’Antoni responded to those comments:

“I can’t lie to him… Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up,” he said.

The coach is correct. When the Lakers have opted for the ball in the post this season, they are shooting just 34.6 percent.

Gasol reacted to the criticism:

“I don’t pay attention. Mike is sometimes all over the place, I don’t give much credit to things like that,” he said.

After subtle shots in the media back and forth, Kobe Bryant finally weighed in on the matter:

“They’re like an old couple,” he said. “It’s every year, It’s not really anything new.”

D’Antoni had also reportedly recently called a team meeting, encouraging Gasol or anyone else who had an issue with his coaching to speak with him directly.

Gasol is in the final year of his contract that pays him $19.3 million. The Lakers, however, seem to be falling out of favor with the power forward who helped guide them to consecutive NBA titles. He already stated that he would be opened to signing with the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason, a move that would team him with his brother, Marc Gasol. Los Angeles’s style of play just does not fit the Spaniard. Gasol wants to post up – D’Antoni isn’t interested.

Memphis’s slow pace of play would better fit Gasol. The Chicago Bulls, if they amnesty Carlos Boozer, are another possible destination in the offseason. Yet, the Lakers are wise to begin to explore the option now. Gasol or no Gasol, there will be no championship trophy hoisted by the Lakers this season.