It’s no secret that Pau Gasol has had a hard time fitting in to Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced offense and with the announcement that he will miss his fourth straight game with knee tendinitis, talk has surfaced involving him coming off the bench even when he does return.
According to ESPN.com, D’Antoni dispelled such rumors on Sunday, saying that Gasol will return to the starting five whenever he is healthy enough to play.
“I’m not going to mess with Pau,” D’Antoni said. “He’s too important to the team and he’s earned it and he’s too good of a player to even go there. That would be a last resort kind of desperate (move).”
Gasol did not participate in the team shootaround on Sunday and instead spend his time strengthening his quad muscles to help relieve some pressure on the patellar tendons in his knees. The team is unsure of the exact date he will be ready to return, but as long as he keeps working, they are confident it will be in the near future.
“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,” D’Antoni said. “If the pain is less or very little, then he’ll play. But, we haven’t gotten to that point yet.”
The Lakers will begin a four-game road trip in Cleveland on Tuesday.