D’Antoni: Pau Gasol will return to Lakers lineup

12/9/12 in NBA   |   BrianMaddock   |   1429 respect

With Pau Gasol nearing a return from knee tendinitis, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni put to rest the rumors of the team scraping the forward from the lineup after a slow start that clearly lacked explosiveness at the beginning of the season. Earlier, the Spaniard acknowledged he hasn’t played at par with his former self, and his performances have lacked energy. But that has apparently been Pau Gasol’s case over the last season again.
So will Pau Gasol be back in the lineup after missing the Los Angeles Lakers’ last three games with knee tendinitis and despite averaging career lows with 12.6 point on 42 percent shooting this season, or will he be again benched on his return. For now, Mike D’Antonio doesn’t believe in letting a key asset to the team catch unnecessary dust in the bench.
"Not yet, that's not what we need to be doing right now," Mike D'Antoni said about the rumors of Pau Gasol heading to the bench. . "We need to find him and Steve Nash in there together and look at it and make a good assessment. I envision him being really good at what he does at the four, so I don't see that."
Pau Gasol has been part of the bargain many players made before coming over to Los Angeles this season. So there’s more to bargain for about Pau Gasol’s starting spot than just hi performance this season.
"I'm not going to mess with Pau. He's too important to the team and he's earned it and he's too good of a player to even go there,” stated Mike D'Antoni.  “That would be a last resort kind of desperate (move)."
The 32-year-old Pau Gasol was ruled out of Los Angeles Lakers’ Sunday matchup against the Utah Jazz, after he missed shootaround the same day. But Pau Gasol hasn’t been simply letting his tome away from the lineup go to waste. Pau Gasol has been working on strengthening his core and quadriceps muscles to lift the building pressure from the patellar tendons in his knees. He also has ice treatment and pain medication scheduled to speed up his return. Although Pau Gasol has been working out on the elliptical machine, he still has to resume full-speed running.
"They wanted complete rest for three or four days, which he's done, probably in Cleveland or someplace he'll start moving a little bit," stated Mike D'Antoni. "If the pain is less or very little, then he'll play. But, we haven't gotten to that point yet."
The Los Angeles Lakers enter a four-game road stretch against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, before facing the New York Knicks, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers.
Los Angeles Lakers points guard Steve Nash also nearing his return after being sidelined with a fibula fracture in the left leg. Although Mike D’Antoni was looking forward to playing his returning starters together, he could immediately start Steve Nash in the lineup without Pau Gasol.  
"I think it's possible," Mike D'Antoni said about starting Steve Nash on the road . "I wouldn't put my reputation on it, but, it's possible."
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