Sports Out West

Pau Gasol injury update: Lakers F-C to start, return soon

Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol has recovered well from a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot and will likely make his return at some point next week. 

When he does so, the Spaniard will regain his starting role, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

Sources close to the team told the Los Angeles Times that head coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want to create the controversy that surrounded his initial decision to bench Pau Gasol in favor of Earl Clark. To make the decision to re-insert the former All-Star back into the role he’s most comfortable in is the fact that Clark has seemingly hit a wall and struggled of late when logging starter’s minutes. Los Angeles has been using an eight-man rotation with Antawn Jamison filling in at the four spot and has outplayed Clark during the Lakers’ recent stretch of good basketball. 

Gasol was off to a dismal start in 2012-13 as he is averaging a career-low 13.4 points per game and 45.3 percent from the field in 36 games. He has struggled to fit in to the style of play NBA fans are used to seeing with D’Antoni-coached teams, and the primary reason for that is the fact that he’s had to play away from the basket rather than get the majority of his touches in the paint. 

He’s an inside-out player who can not only get his shot but pass out of the post and find cutters and open shooters. Whether or not D’Antoni tries to utilize him in that manner remains to be seen, but the Lakers will need their rotation solidified before the playoffs begin, if they make it that far. 

In any capacity, Gasol will help the team with his presence, and however D’Antoni chooses to use him, it will be a major lift for a team that will need to be on the same page in a short while. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.