D'Antoni has been trying to diffuse the situation with his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor.
"I know he wants to start. I've just kind of got to coach the team the way I think is better," D'Antoni said. "It's not a personality conflict. It's not a dance contest. I like him. My dance card's open."
D'Antoni has been using Earl Clark as the starting power forward alongside Howard. He said he likes how the Lakers start with a smaller lineup.
"I still consider myself one of the best out there," Gasol said. "It's a game that you can't be too self-centered and selfish. You have to put team first and have to make it work somehow. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make it work and I try not to be a negative influence at all."
Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio defended his fellow Spaniard on Thursday, joking that if the Lakers don't want Gasol, the Wolves would take him. D'Antoni fired back, saying when Rubio coaches a team he can make those decisions. And Bryant took it a step further when asked about some of the criticism Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love has received this season.
"You can send him our way," he said.
Asked what he can do to keep Gasol from letting the disappointment affect his play, D'Antoni cracked: "Pay him $19 million. Y'all figure it out. That should help. I think it's fine. He wants to play. I've got it. And he's going to play. He's always going to be in there in the end of big games."
For one night at least, it wasn't an issue. Gasol was in the starting lineup and Bryant said it was imperative the Lakers figure out a way to get him back to being a featured part of the offense.
"We haven't used him to his full potential, everybody knows that," Bryant said. "That's something we're trying to figure out and something we'll have to do a much better job at if we want to reach our full potential as a team. We have to use him more."
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