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Gasol situation

Marc Gasol was never going to simply keep quiet. Not that he didn’t try to stay away from inquiring minds. Thrice since the Lakers formalized their welcome of Andrew Drummond last week, he was asked to meet with scribes. And thrice, he refused comment on the development. No doubt, he figured that if he didn’t have anything good to say, anyway, he would be better off just holding his tongue. Of course, he is who he is, and once opportunity knocked anew, he felt he had no choice but to be his candid self. And that opportunity, ironically enough, came after the purple and gold’s new hire went down with a toe injury and the erstwhile starter found himself on the podium following a relatively solid effort in victory.

Gasol was measured in his responses as he addressed queries from the assembled media. He remains committed to the Lakers, he said. “You have to accept it because that’s your job. And that’s what you sign up to do.” At the same time, he was forthright, noting that “it’s never easy” going from “Plan A [to] Plan C, D… I think there’s an if — if they need you. And that’s a big if.” To be sure, Gasol’s true worth had hitherto been marginal at best; while he was a fixture on the First Five prior to Drummond’s arrival, he normed less than 20 minutes per contest and hardly saw any fourth-quarter action, leading to career lows across the board.

Perhaps Gasol would have been able to get away with posting modest figures had acknowledged leader LeBron James not gone down with an ankle injury two weeks ago. Four straight losses made the Lakers pine for more production and productivity, and Drummond’s availability on the cheap via the buyout market was too good of a bargain to pass up. Unfortunately, the turn of events resulted in him falling to third on the depth chart, next to supersub Montrezl Harrell. And, for all his limited movement as an old 36, he still retained the pride that enabled him to exceed himself in the first place.

And so Gasol wound up exposing his soul to willing listeners. Part of his openness stemmed from his stubborn predisposition; it’s why he was once tabbed a coach killer, with former Grizzlies mentors Dave Joerger and David Fizdale on the receiving end of his strong views. This time around, he had nothing to say against Lakers bench tactician Frank Vogel. He’s not stupid; he knows there’s nothing good coming out of a public challenge to a champion pacing the sidelines — and especially not in the face of his anemic stats. Which is why he said he’s still on board. And which is also why he said “we’ll see.” Indeed.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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