Lakers Rumors: Pau Gasol's Return Doesn't Put LA at Full Strength

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIMarch 15, 2013

Feb 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol (16) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. The Lakers defeated the Timberwolves 111-100. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

According to Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times, power forward Pau Gasol could return to the Los Angeles Lakers as early as next week. Gasol has been sidelined since Feb. 5 with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot.

As helpful as Gasol's return may be, it still doesn't put L.A. at full strength.

Gasol was originally expected to miss six-to-eight weeks after suffering the injury on Feb. 5. That prognosis would put him in the range of returning anywhere between next week and next month.

An encouraging sign is that Gasol has already begun on-court drills.

On Tuesday, the veteran forward/center ran through his first on-court basketball drills. As long as he doesn't face any setbacks Wednesday, he'll continue to ramp up his activity.

...there isn't a concrete date yet [for Gasol to return].

The final statement is the one of utmost importance.

There is no set date for Gasol to return, but instead a speculative date in which he could come back. This has been the story of the Lakers' season, as they've never once been at full strength.

Even when every star was in the starting lineup, they were never healthy.

One Man In, Another Man Out

Since the beginning of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have seen one star enter their lineup and another one leave. As a result of these ailments, they've been unable to develop a semblance of chemistry.

That trend is continuing with Pau Gasol's return.

To begin the season, Dwight Howard was less than seven months removed from offseason back surgery. Even Howard's former Orlando Magic coach, Stan Van Gundy, publicly acknowledged the impact D-12's bum backย was having.

During the second game of the season, Steve Nash went down with a small fracture in his left leg.ย Nash missed 24 games due to the injury.

Following Nash was sixth man Jordan Hill, who received season-ending hip surgery, and backup point guard Steve Blake, who missed 37 games with a torn abdominal muscle.

Gasol later joined the injured group with a variety of injuries, including the latest torn plantar fascia. In fact, the only player who appeared capable of fighting off injuries was Kobe Bryant.

Until now.

The Kobe Factor

Just as Pau Gasol appears ready to return from his torn plantar fascia, the Los Angeles Lakers lost another superstar. Correction, the Lakers lost the superstar.

Kobe Bryant is suffering from severely sprained left ankle.

For those interested in seeing how gruesome the injury is, check the link provided above. If you have a weak stomach, I suggest you avoid the image at all costs.

It isn't pretty.

Once we get past the controversial fashion of how the injury transpired, we must acknowledge that it did. No matter how much of a warrior Kobe may be, this is the type of ailment that should sideline a player for an extended period of time.

For that reason, we're inclined to believe the Black Mamba would have a hard time producing at a high level. In other words, the second Gasol gets back, the Lakers will be significantly weaker around him.

Just as one superstar comes in, another goes downโ€”the story of the Lakers' season.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.