For the time being, Pau Gasol isn’t going anywhere. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers’ much maligned small forward has been the subject of nonstop trade chatter over the past few weeks, a combination of factors have basically ensured that he will remain in purple and gold through at least Steve Nash’s return. And seeing as there is still no timetable as far as that return goes, it’s probably a safe bet that Gasol will remain with L.A. for the long haul.
Staying with the Lakers is only half the battle, though. Prior to him sitting out these last four games with tendinitis, Gasol became a fixture on the bench in the fourth quarter of games. The unfortunate mix of his poor play and Mike D’Antoni’s ineptness as it applies to making him productive proved to be a bad combination.
With Gasol averaging career lows and the offense seemingly functioning better (relatively speaking) when Antawn Jamison was starting in his place, the question had to be asked: will Gasol be a starter when he returns?
According to D’Antoni – yes.
"I'm not going to mess with Pau," D'Antoni told the Los Angeles Times. "He's too important to the team and he's earned it and he's too good of a player to even go there yet. That would be a last-resort kind of [thing], desperate."
What if the team continues to lose, though?
"If you lose, then you always try something," D'Antoni said. "So I don't want to ever say, 'No, I'm not going to do that.' But at the same time, I don't have any intentions to do it. I don't think we should do it."
Got that? Gasol will be the starter when he returns, but could ultimately be moved down to the bench if this team loses. Which it has been doing with or without him anyway.
Could the Lakers possibly be more of a mess right now?