Frank Vogel was under fire on Monday following the Los Angeles Lakers 111-96 loss to the New York Knicks for how he’s handled veteran big man Marc Gasol, whose role has become complicated since the team signed Andre Drummond.
Gasol played just five minutes in the fourth quarter against the Knicks, despite being fairly effective as a change of pace to Montrezl Harrell and Andre Drummond at center. He scored three points with a steal and rebound in the limited time, finishing as the only Lakers player with a positive plus-minus.
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The Lakers struggled to penetrate against the Knicks’ stout defense or work in the paint and turned the ball over a whopping 25 times in the loss. Vogel said he was “looking for a spark” when he put Gasol in.
“All three of our centers have to stay ready,” Vogel said in his postgame press conference. “We were looking for a spark. We were getting beat pretty good down I think 13 or so. In the fourth quarter, you just look for a spark.”
Vogel Questioned for Handling of Gasol
The situation with Gasol has been sense since the Lakers landed Drummond on the buyout market. Drummond took over the starting role from Gasol, who has fallen completely out of the rotation at times since.
Vogel was called out after the game on social media after Drummond and Harrell combined for just three points in 40 combined minutes.
Some took issue with how Gasol has been treated recently, especially after he performed well with Drummond out of the lineup with a toe injury.
Jovan Buha of The Athletic petitioned for Gasol to have a larger role in the offense, depending on the matchup.
“Tonight confirms what we already knew: Marc Gasol deserves a role in the Lakers’ rotation,” Buha wrote on Twitter. “He’s been too good recently. Think there’s a case to split the backup center minutes, if not make Gasol the primary option. Depends on the matchup. Gasol-Harrell combo is worth a look, too.”
Gasol Has Handled Benching Gracefully
There was a period of time where it looked like Gasol and the Lakers could be heading for a divorce, with the veteran big man calling the signing of Drummond a “tough pill to swallow.” However, the 36-year-old Spaniard reassessed his role off the bench and said he is fully committed going forward.
“I’ll stay ready. I’m going to tell you this: I’m fully committed to the team. I’ll stay ready when my number is called,” Gasol told reporters earlier this month. “I understand we have to get Andre acclimated to what we’re trying to do. We have to get back our two main guys — Bron and A.D. whenever they come back — and they have to get that group going and get some chemistry going with the first unit for them. I’ll be ready no matter what happens. No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position. If it’s some nights, I might not play. But I’ll stay ready, no matter what. I made that commitment.”
Gasol is dealing with minor hamstring tightness, so that could also be the reason for the limited minutes.