Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said Sunday that he expects Pau Gasol won't return to the lineup until it's determined if the Lakers are in or out of the playoffs.
This post has been updated with a clarification on D'Antoni's remarks.
The Los Angeles Lakers have won three games in a row, but they got a bit of bad news on Sunday night. Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News that Pau Gasol will likely be sidelined until the Lakers' playoff status is decided with the torn plantar fascia in his right foot:
"By the time he gets back, we'll be in or out," D'Antoni said. "His impact will be in the playoffs if we get there."
Gasol tore his plantar fascia in the final minutes of the Lakers' win on Feb. 5 over the Brooklyn Nets. He was originally expected to miss at least four to six weeks, but it's looking like it will take a little longer for him to recover. The big man is hoping to soon be able to walk without crutches.
The news is a potentially-tough blow for the Lakers (28-29), who sit 2½ games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. Los Angeles has 25 games remaining, and although it has started to play better of late, it certainly could use Gasol for a final push. D'Antoni has adjusted to Gasol's injury by shortening his rotation to eight players.
If the Lakers do not make the playoffs, could we have seen Gasol in the purple and gold for the last time? His name has been involved in plenty of trade rumors the past couple of seasons and Los Angeles may look to ditch his $19.3 million expiring contract for next season.
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