News Column

LA Lakers' Pau Gasol Rests Ailing Knees

December 6, 2012

Paul Levine

Pau Gasol is temporarily down with an injury and there are reports that the Los Angeles Lakers' big man could be permanently out of a purple and gold uniform soon.

Gasol sat out the first of two games Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets, with painful tendinitis of both knees and it isn't clear when he will return.

"I don't know," Gasol told the LA Times after the Lakers blew a 17-point third-quarter lead en route to a 107-105 road loss. "I just don't know."

Gasol has been bothered by pain in the knees that hasn't allowed the 7-foot Spaniard to effectively run up and down the court in new coach Mike D'Antoni's demanding high-octane offence.

"I see plays that I just don't get to or don't finish the way I want to. Those happen a couple of times a game and it's been frustrating," the four-time All-Star told the newspaper.

"Until I feel like I can be out there playing close to 100 per cent or 100 per cent, the team doesn't deserve any less. I don't deserve any less but to be out there performing at my best and that's what we'll try to do."

Whether the 32-year-old Gasol can adapt to the fast-paced run-and-gun system remains a question mark. D'Antoni wants his big man to return healthy again.

"We got to get him healthy, whatever it takes, one game, two games, 10 games," he told reporters. "I don't know.

"It's day to day but he's got to be healthy. It wasn't fair to him. He's trying to battle through some stuff and in this league, you just can't do that."

Despite boasting future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Gasol in the starting lineup, the Lakers are struggling. They have a disappointing 8-10 record while waiting for former two-time league MVP point guard Steve Nash to make his season-debut from a leg injury.

So clearly, this is not a good time for Gasol to sit.

Gasol is averaging a mediocre 12.6 points and 8.8 rebounds this season, but was called out by the frustrated Bryant after a loss last week.

The Black Mamba told his longtime teammate to step up and "put on his big boy pants" and to adapt and thrive in the new system instead of complaining. Though Gasol has never publicly complained about his knees, he has complained about a lack of touches and not getting the ball enough in close.

One of his biggest supporters, Bryant told reporters he can relate to Gasol's struggles, because he had to make a decision to sit out the end of last season due to tenosynovitis (inflammation) in his left shin that caused him to miss several games.

"We talked about it a little," Bryant said of a recent discussion with Gasol. "It's difficult for him, obviously because he doesn't have the explosiveness that he had. So a lot of it, I'm assuming, has to do with his being injured physically and not being able to get up and down the court and perform at a high level, which could lead to frustration.

"I dealt with it with the pain in my shin," he continued. "You're kind of out there playing around and playing and you kind of wind up being a little bit of a shell of yourself because of your physical limitations."

Already there are reports that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has had discussions with Gasol's representatives regarding a possible trade.

If, however, Gasol can get his rest and return healthy at the same time as Nash, who is the engine that drives the offence, then perhaps the Lakers can get back on track as the dominant team odds-makers picked to emerge from the Western Conference and to the NBA Finals in June.

Should Gasol not be able to make the necessary adjustments, he could be heading out of Hollywood for another NBA city.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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