Pau Gasol’s role as starter debated

Lakers big man Pau Gasol is averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42% this season.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Lakers are debating whether to bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis, said a person familiar with the team’s thinking.

Gasol has struggled mightily this season, averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, both career lows.

The Lakers are trying to decide how a demotion to the bench would affect Gasol. If they determined it would be adverse, they’d keep him in the starting lineup.


It was unclear when Gasol would return, though it could be Sunday against Utah at Staples Center. The Lakers then take off for another road trip, to Cleveland, New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

Before Friday’s game, Gasol worked out on an elliptical machine. He has not started running again.

Antawn Jamison, Gasol’s replacement the last three games, has averaged 13 points and six rebounds since joining the starting lineup. Jamison’s worst game of the three was Friday against Oklahoma City — nine points and five rebounds in the Lakers’ 114-108 loss.

Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni has benched Gasol twice since taking over the team. Gasol was held out the entire fourth quarter in a loss to Memphis and the last 6:07 in a loss to Orlando.

D’Antoni recently said he went with Jamison in those two games because “we just have to be a more dynamic team.”

“We’re slow right now,” D’Antoni said this week. “Athletically, we’re struggling against young teams that just run up and down.”

Land of Lincoln

The Lakers haven’t exactly been a study of symmetry and cohesion on the court, so they tried an off-court activity, going as a team to watch the movie “Lincoln” on Thursday.

The reviews were mixed.

“It came as a big shock to [teammates] when he was killed,” Kobe Bryant quipped to reporters after Friday morning’s shoot-around.

Dwight Howard said Steve Nash fell asleep and was “snoring pretty loud.”

Howard might have been joking, but Jordan Hill was not.

“I fell asleep 8 times,” Hill wrote on his Twitter account.

Gasol was animated, and positive, on Twitter.

“Very good movie! It describes one of the most important moments in the history of the USA,” he wrote. “Highly recommended!”