Gasol in the midst of arguably one of his most difficult year as a Los Angeles Laker as he has dealt with a multitude of injuries and several tense moments between he and head coach Mike D’Antoni. All of this has undoubtedly affected his performance on the court for Los Angeles as he is averaging the second lowest points output in his career at 15.3 to go with 9.5 rebounds on a career-low 45 percent shooting from the field.
Although he may be having a down year by his high standards, Gasol’s contributions on the court offensively will be missed as he has been one of the most consistent players this season for the Lakers. If he is indeed traded to Cleveland, other players on the Lakers will have to step up in his absence.
So with that said here are three players who will likely benefit from Gasol’s departure:
1. Jordan Hill
With Gasol gone there will be a void at the center position that the 26-year-0ld can step in and fill. In several instances this season, Hill has played center with the second unit alongside either Shawne Williams or Ryan Kelly. Hill has been a productive player when during his string of seven starts in mid-November as he averaged 15.0 points with 11.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 31.o minutes per game.
That stretch included having four double-doubles, two games of least 2o points and 10 rebounds, and recording career highs in points (24) and rebound (17) in the Lakers 114-99 win over the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 17. Hill, like any other player, is more productive on the floor when he is given more minutes, and if Gasol is trade he will likely be one of the main players to benefit from the move.
2. Chris Kaman
Although Kaman has been in D’Antoni’s doghouse for quite some time now, the trade of Gasol will undoubtedly open up time on the floor for the 31-year-old. This season, Kaman has had one of his most troubling season in the NBA as his playing time has been fluctuating with D’Antoni placing him in and out of the rotation on a game-by-game basis depending on what he feels gives the team the best chance to win.
Now with Gasol traded, D’Antoni would have to consider playing Kaman as he has a similar offensive game to Gasol. Kaman could fill the center position in the starting lineup and be a productive player that averages near a double-double. He has proven to be a productive player for the Lakers this season when given adequate playing as evident by the last two games he replaced Gasol in the lineup as he was dealing with his respiratory infection.
Kaman in those two games had double-double efforts with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers 105-103 loss to the Utah Jazz on Dec. 27, and 10 points to go along with a season-high 17 rebounds in the team’s 102-83 loss on Dec. 21 to the Golden State Warriors. But what it will ultimately come down to for Kaman is D’Antoni’s decision on whether or not to play the 11-year veteran, who has the necessary skill set to be a productive player on the floor for Los Angeles in Gasol’ absence if he is indeed traded.
3. Robert Sacre
Over the past month, the 24-year-old has continued to get sufficient minutes in D’Antoni’s rotation after not receiving very little playing time in the first month or so of the season. In that time, Sacre has become a rotational player because D’Antoni likes the energy and defensive presence he brings to the team when he is on the floor.
So with that said, Sacre has a chance to receive an abundance of playing time with Gasol possibly getting traded. Although Sacre is limited offensively, he can still provide the Lakers with some rebounding and blocks. What also plays in his favor is that he knows his role on this team, so his presence on the court will not be detrimental to the team’s performance.
With Gasol possibly gone, Sacre will likely be featured in the rotation in a larger role due to the fact that D’Antoni likes what he can bring to team, which is something that Kaman does not have in his favor.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports
Bob Garcia IV
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