Let There Be Peace On Earth And Bench?

 

HANG TIME, TexasPau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni had a nice lunch, which concluded with a return to the starting lineup for the Spaniard as dessert.

So after swallowing three straight sugarplum wins over Washington, Philly and Charlotte, everyone is fat and jolly again in Laker Land as they wait for Steve Nash to fall back down their chimney on Christmas.

Except, uh, has anyone checked in with naughty-or-nice Metta World Peace?

Turns out our friend Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times did:

But what does World Peace want? It’s always entertaining to find out.

He initially said the right things about the demotion, claiming he would accept it for the betterment of the team but not wanting to go too in-depth about it, quickly touting his new music single (“Represented,” for those who care) and reminding reporters it was available now on iTunes.

On Friday, however, World Peace appeared less open to the concept when asked if he was still fine with coming off the bench.

“I’m not answering that at all. Absolutely not. I have no comment,” said World Peace, the Lakers’ second-best player in a surprising number of games this season.

Of course, as always with World Peace, his opinion could change as quickly as it takes to walk across the room and come back to ask the exact same question. But it is a situation worth monitoring.

It’s understandable that D’Antoni’s top priority is to get a healthy Gasol’s engine back running on all cylinders. His production has dropped off significantly this season with him averaging 12.4 points and 8.8 rebounds, and shooting only 41.3 percent as he hobbled on bad knees and a seeming lack of faith from the coach.

Since Nash has previously indicated that playing in a lineup that included Gasol was a big factor in his choosing to join up with the Lakers, maximizing the time the pair spends on the floor together just makes sense.

So too would it seem that World Peace is the more obvious choice to come off the bench, where his energy and enthusiasm can provide a lift and he’d have more freedom to be a bigger part of the offense away from Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Gasol.

In his first game in the reserve role, World Peace played starter’s minutes (36), scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made four steals.

Perhaps more significant will be how D’Antoni uses his lineup down the stretch in games. According to Bresnahan, D’Antonio told Gasol he would no longer be removed from games in critical situations. Yet he was benched with the score tied for the final 2:35 of the win over Charlotte, while World Peace played to the end.

Let’s see how harmoniously that plays out if the situations are reversed before declaring joy to the Lakers world.

12 Comments

  1. I think that mike should have pau coming off the bench and let antawn or Jordan hill start so there is more stability

  2. Lexius says:

    I would like to see Kobe taking less shots and let Steve Nash do some pick and rolls with Dwight or Gasol.
    Why ? because Kobe needs his fresh legs for this entire season and he plays like he is still younger….
    He will run out of gas by the end of the entire season is over… manage the minutes and offense a little better please !

    Balance the offense more, I am frustrated seeing Kobe keep asking for the ball down low and posting up… where you have Steve Nash at point and 2 of the best post up bigs in Gasol and Dwight… makes no sense whats so ever..

    Meeks starting in place for Rookie Morris is a no brainer, Meeks is deadly for sure in 3pt range and opens up room for the Bigs…

  3. Big Al says:

    @Danny: Are you out of your mind? Ebanks doesn’t belong in the NBA, let alone the starting lineup. He needs to relearn the fundamentals of basketball. He had two points and a rebound in the last game. Go figure.

    @Hm: You may need to take it easy on the barbiturates. Kobe, at the time, was the Lakers’ one moving part, and you will bench him? Don’t blame him for the bench’s lack of productiveness. They’re a bunch of duds that don’t deserve the same legacy as Kareem, Magic, Shaq, and the like.

    @D’Antoni: You could have just set off a time bomb. World Peace is an effective but volatile player. His performance of late doesn’t justify his demotion. Don’t wait for him to lose his motivation and possibly ask for a trade. The Lakers have already let go of a handful of useful guys like Brown, Lamar and Barnes. We can’t afford to lose any more good men. Keep Metta at the starting lineup. Gasol is the one who lacks energy, so do the adjustments around him instead.

    • Hm says:

      In a world of Kobe fans, critics may seem like heretics. I think I clearly noted that the bench underperformed, not Kobe. In fact, Kobe is having a pretty good Kobe-like season. He is up to his usual antics.

      So I may not blame Kobe for the Lakers’ struggles, but I also don’t avoid holding him partially responsible or criticising his game. My message may have been partially in jest too — then again, they say that many a true word is spoken in jest.

  4. Hm says:

    If they really want to shake things up by benching a starter, the best one to bench… is Kobe!

    Dwight (at PF) will get more shots, Gasol (at C) will get more shots, Meeks (who is hot) will get more shots (but less than Kobe normally would obviously), MWP will get more shots (only in games where he doesn’t already take a lot of shots). The bench has underperformed most of the time, so Kobe gobbling up ~30-40 percent of the possessions to play heroball won’t make a difference. It’s not like Kobe should be wasting the starters’ minutes to play isolation.

  5. Spurs Fan says:

    As a lifelong Spurs fan, it’s nice to see the Lakers coming back into focus. As much as Dallas tried to become a legitimate “rival” to San Antonio, it was the SUNS under Nash and of course the Lakers who are considered SERIOUS (past) rivals in Spurs-land.

    Now with Nash in L.A., this could potentially turn into the showdown of SHOWDOWNS if the Lakers can pick up their game and meet us in the playoffs for a killer series.

    No team ever suffered so much heartbreak at the hands of the Spurs like Nash’s Suns, and San Antonio and LA have both handed each other some of their nastier losses. I was really hoping to see a STELLAR L.A. team to match up our Spurs too, but so far it’s mostly been an echo of last year with San Antonio and OKC battling for top position, with only the Clippers being the really big surprise so far.

    So get it together Lakers!!! C’mon, battling OKC doesn’t quite get the juices flowing, we need an old fashioned LA – SA battle for this years’ WC Champs.

  6. Danny says:

    I would start Ebanks at the 3 and make him to be a primary defender. World Peace can have freedom to run offense for the second unit.

  7. purpngold says:

    Well, I still have doubts about DAntoni as being the right coach for the job, but I have to give him credit for trying something different which as a fan is all that I can ask for. However he tweaks the line up, he is trying to find how it will work best, Im happy to see this, even if Meta is not. Bottom lline is if the expectations are to win, as part of the team all the players should give it a chance to see how it works out. Meta should actually embrace the fact that he could be the main guy coming off the bench and taking on a bigger role and becoming a leader for the bench guys. His numbers should go up as he becomes a primary target on offense coming off the bench and helping the team out in one of the areas they need it the most. I expect some positives to come out of this adjustments. Good job DAntoni, lets keep working at it.

  8. dj rgm9 says:

    I d’ont think metta is happy with the new roll coming from the bench,that’s a degradation for him.He was the FACTOR in these last 3 wins from Lakers,D’antoni has to give a chance again for Metta, at least!Metta is hot,sharp let him start in the line up especialy against the knicks(melo&rest).You need a pitbull like Metta from the start against the Knicks,that’s the reality!We see what D’Antoni is planning is.I d’ont feel so comfortable with him as coach.That’s a real test tonight,we see.

    • chigchig says:

      i dont get this.. what does it matter to start besides pride? he played as many minutes, he just comes on and becomes a spark plug and running in the 2nd unit wit hkobe should give him more a go to shoot the ball when nash howard and gasol all sit.. he gets to go back to being artest when he comes offthe bench for this team and be the alpha/beta for a unit.. instead of being the 5th option when with the starters

  9. Bok says:

    Gasol & Artest are getting older, so starting the game shouldn’t be an issue. They should be healthy going to the playoffs (or are they?) & giving the bench a break could be a gamble, yet beneficial if it works out.

  10. RICK says:

    GO LAKERS GO. THE UNITY PART OF STRENGTH IS WHAT MAKES THE TOTALITY OF THE WHOLE. WHAT EVER IT TKES TO WIN, SHOULD BE THE MOTO OF ALL. IF PAU HAS TO GO TO THE BENCH SO BE IT, BUT IT’S I MPORTANT TO HAVE THE STRONGEST TEAM ON THE FLOOR AT ALL TIMES. I DO JHAVE A PROBLEM ANYTIME IT APPEARS A TEAM CAN ONLY WIN WITH ONE PLAYERS AS BEING STRESSED BY COACH D IN REGARDS TO STEVE NASH WHO IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLAYERS. WHILE STEVE WILL BE AND ADDED ADDITION, IT WILL TAKE WAY MORE THAN HIS RETURN FOR THIS TEAM TO CONTINUE ON WINNING. DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE. PSALMS 29:6