Los Angeles Lakers forward-center Pau Gasol may return to the lineup as early as next week after an extensive basketball workout on Tuesday, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.
Pau had his first extensive basketball workout today on his way back from his plantar fascia tear. Again tomorrow. Might be back next week.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) March 12, 2013
In addition, Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said Gasol is running well and “feeling good.”
Gasol suffered a plantar fascia tear in his right foot during the first half of the Lakers’ 92-83 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on February 5. After an MRI and an examination by a foot specialist, Gasol was expected to be out for six to eight weeks. If he does return next week or the two weeks following, it will put him within that projected time range.
Prior to the plantar fascia tear, Gasol also missed 13 games due to knee tendinitis and a concussion. He was initially part of the starting lineup until Coach D’Antoni opted to place him on the bench after solid performances from the younger, more athletic Earl Clark.
However, Clark’s production has tapered off in the past week, suggesting that he may not be accustomed to playing an increased number of minutes. Clark’s minutes per game this season have almost doubled in comparison to last season as a member of the Orlando Magic.
As such, the return of Gasol will add another big man to the Lakers’ rotation, which will help spell minutes for Clark and Dwight Howard.
Thus far this season, Gasol is averaging 13.4 points, eight rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 33.4 minutes per game.