Pau Gasol: How Injury Can Seal Forward’s Fate with Los Angeles Lakers

Pau Gasol's injury can be seen as a devastating blow to the Los Angeles Lakers, but it also allows for a trial period of sorts that could determine what his future with the team will be.

The Lakers have two obvious options with Gasol: trade him at some point this season or during the offseason or simply keep him.

The problem with keeping Gasol at this point is that he doesn't fit head coach Mike D'Antoni's system. The Los Angeles coach likes his big men to be able to spread the floor, and while Gasol has a solid mid-range game, he isn't a threat from beyond there.

Because of this, Gasol has been coming off the bench for D'Antoni, and that has made the 32-year-old unhappy, to say the least.

Gasol is still important to this team, however. He is a nice piece coming off the bench for L.A. as he averages 13.4 points and eight rebounds per contest. Furthermore, he gives the team necessary length, which the Lakers are sorely lacking with Jordan Hill out for the season.

An injury to the big man that will keep him out at least six weeks won't help his trade value any, and that's on top of an enormous contract that Gasol is attached to. Still, chances are there would be a team willing to take a chance on him, with an expiring contract after the 2013-14 season in mind.

General manager Mitch Kupchak has said very clearly that he doesn't plan on making any deals involving his top players this season, but that could very well change in the next few weeks or before the start of next season.

With Gasol being out for as long as he will be, the Lakers will have a great sample size to see just how much they truly need the Spaniard on their roster.

Los Angeles has been playing much better of late, and Gasol's presence on the bench seems to be a positive for the Lakers' starting five. Now, the true test will be to see if the team's bench responds in a similar way ...

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