Gasol looking forward to ‘fun’ D’Antoni system

Lakers forward Pau Gasol is seen during the team's regular-season matchup against the Clippers on Nov. 2, 2012.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Before General Manager Mitch Kupchak sent forward Pau Gasol a text message to let him know the team had hired Mike D’Antoni to be the team’s next coach, Gasol was already up to date after checking out his Twitter timeline.

“I found out. I was checking my Twitter,” said Gasol. “Sources say, sources say, L.A. Times, Mike Bresnahan says....”

Gasol knew that Phil Jackson was in serious consideration for the position and that Jackson’s respect for Gasol was mutual.

Despite his affection for Jackson, Gasol said he was looking forward to playing for D’Antoni.


“Everybody was talking about Phil [Jackson] as the main candidate,” said Gasol. “Obviously, that was up for management and ownership. So they signed Mike. I think we’re all excited to have him here and learn his principles of offense and defense.

“We understand what Phil brings to the table and how successful he’s been and how successful he’s been here,” continued Gasol. “It couldn’t happen, for whatever the reasons are, so we move forward. That’s what we do as professionals.”

D’Antoni’s style of basketball is fast-paced, involving multiple pick and rolls.

“It should be a fun system to play in. There are a lot of opportunities in an up-tempo kind of game, unselfish kind of game,” said Gasol.

Having played against D’Antoni teams (Phoenix and New York), Gasol remembers how difficult it can be to defend against them, especially with Steve Nash at the helm.

“When you have a point guard that can distribute the ball, can play the pick and roll and can find the open man,” said Gasol. “There’s multiple, multiple pick and rolls, so it’s hard for the defense to stop them time after time after time. You have to be ready to play and communicate and be really solid defensively. Those are some of the challenges it presents.”

Now Gasol will be on the offensive in that system. It remains to be seen if he and center Dwight Howard have enough speed to make it work.

“We’ll have to adjust. We both are versatile bigs and pretty mobile. We can run the floor ... and get early post positions,” said Gasol.

Just as the Lakers had to make a difficult decision on Mike Brown, can they afford to pay Gasol more than $19 million a season through 2013-14? Next season luxury tax rates climb significantly.

Gasol may have been a priority for a Jackson-led team, but will the same be true under D’Antoni?

Speculation may be premature as D’Antoni has yet to join the Lakers, expected on Wednesday.

The Lakers roster is certainly different from the group D’Antoni led to conference finals multiple times.

The question is, do the Lakers have even more potential or will Kupchak need to make even more changes midseason?


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You can email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.