The Los Angeles Lakers dealt with numerous issues during what quickly became a season of disappointment after sky-high preseason expectations. One of the biggest problems was a lack of production from All-Star forward Pau Gasol.
He averaged just 14 points and nine rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field. It amounted to the worst statistical season of his career. He also played in just 49 games due to various injuries, including lingering knee issues.
Gasol hopes the injury concerns will become a thing of the past after undergoing a procedure to address tendonosis in both knees, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles. He reports the FAST treatment is used to eliminate scar tissue.
It's an important step for Gasol. His future with the Lakers remains up in the air heading into a contract year in which he's due over $19 million. He mentions in the report that it's no guarantee he'll be back with the team following the offseason.
"The future is uncertain," Gasol said. "There's no doubt about it. It's a possibility that I could be gone, and there's a possibility that I could stay. I don't know the exact percentages of it. But I'm prepared for either way."
If healthy, what should the Lakers do with Gasol?
The massive contract paired with decreased production will force the Lakers to make a tough decision. If they believe the procedure is going to help him return to top form, the talented power forward would be worth the sizable investment for another season.
That's why Gasol made the right decision to undergo the treatment right away. He needs to make as much progress as possible before Los Angeles' front office is forced to make a final call.
When healthy, the 33-year-old two-time NBA champion is still one of the most complete forwards in the game. He can score in the paint or with his mid-range game, rebounds effectively and has terrific court vision that makes him a very good post distributor.
He actually sums up the Lakers as a whole pretty well. The talent is undoubtedly there, things just didn't go according to plan this season.
Gasol posted a picture of himself on Twitter after finishing the procedure and was seemingly in good spirits. The hard work is just getting underway with rehab on the horizon, though.
Everything has gone well! Now I'll have to rest my knees and start with the rehab. Thanks everyone for your support! twitter.com/paugasol/statu…— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) May 9, 2013
While the Lakers mull their options, Gasol must keep working toward 100 percent. If he stays and does get back to full strength, he should once again be the double-double machine that made him such a valuable asset during every other season with the team.
If they decide to move him, he would be ready to make that type of impact elsewhere. But if the Lakers think he can get back to that level, they should keep him.
All told, it's too soon to give up on Gasol, especially if his knees aren't a major issue.