The Los Angeles Lakers turbulent season took another turn for the worse Thursday morning (Aus) as scans revealed key forward/center Pau Gasol would miss between 4 to 8 weeks of game time following a tear in his plantar fascia tendon. While the Lakers have been improving of late, winning 6 or their last 7, this potentially very damaging injury could put them back several places in the race for a playoffs birth.
Gasol had been battling a problem with his ankles for most of the season, however during yesterday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets, Gasol landed awkwardly while attempting to contend a Brook Lopez drive to the hoop. It was immediately clear all was not well as Gasol keeled over in pain, and was instantly seen to by trainer Gary Vitti and taken to the locker rooms. An MRI in Boston this morning revealed a partial tear of the plantar fascia tendon in Pau’s right ankle. This type of injury is complex, but it is without a doubt going to keep the Lakers’ big man on the sidelines for quite some time. There is no word on whether Gasol will need surgery or not, but if that is the case, he would likely be out for 10 to 12 weeks, thus ending his season and drastically reducing the Lakers chances of a playoff run.
The team’s injury woes have not let up this season with several key players missing time. Steve Nash missed 24 games at the start of the year with a fractured shin, Jordan Hill suffered a season-ending hip displacement and Dwight Howard has missed 6 games due to a strained labrum in his shoulder and is still day-to-day. Steve Blake also missed 6 weeks after complications connected to the healing of a side strain. While Gasol’s season has been difficult, having dealt with trade rumors, disagreements with Coach Mike D’Antoni, and his sudden demotion to the bench, he has taken it in his stride and performed at the level the team needs him to. With other key big Dwight Howard also out for the foreseeable future, this now piles a huge amount of pressure of the remaining Lakers players, but also on management to find a solution.
There have been whisperings across social media of a potential signing of free agent power forward Kenyon Martin, but at this stage the Lakers’ head office has kept tight lipped about it’s intentions. The team does have a disabled players exception (Jordan Hill) that could become useful should they decide a new body is required to help fill the gaps left by Gasol, Howard and Hill.
Gasol will leave the team in Boston and return to Los Angeles tomorrow for a second opinion and consultation with team doctors before a final return date can be estimated.
Nick Caro (@NickoToGo)