Pau Gasol Injury: Forward’s Return Won’t Help LA Lakers

Pau Gasol is having a career worst NBA season. At his best, he could be the answer to the Lakers' problems.

The problem is, Gasol's best is now behind him.

Gasol is regressing as a player, and the Lakers have more wrong with them than can be easily addressed by the return of the Spaniard.

What has to be most frustrating to Gasol, to Kobe Bryant, and Dwight Howard, Steve Nash—and even to Mike D'Antoni—is that the Lakers had the best lineup on paper going into this season.

But what we're now coming to realize is that at least half of that lineup on paper is now aging, yellowing, edge curling paper. The Lakers are vintage in a bad way.

And Gasol heads that up. He's posting just 12.6 points per game this season and is playing near a career low in minutes with just 34 per contest.

Gasol's field goal percentage is bad even for a guard, at 42 percent. He's also averaging his least rebounds since 2007-08 with just 8.8 rebounds per contest.

Gasol seems softer than ever, and trade rumors surrounding his name are abundant, as Alex Kay summed up last week.

At this point, that is the most that Gasol offers the Lakers: a potential trade chip.

Mitch Kupchak must realize that Gasol is not the answer to the struggles that have plagued the club, and if anything the 32-year-old forward is going to perpetuate those problems. The Lakers have gone 2-5 without Gasol and are now a full two games out of the playoffs.

If anyone is going to save the season, it will be Steve Nash. But even that is a long shot, as Nash is coming off major injury at age 38.

Truly, many are just beginning to realize the bar was set too high for the Lakers, anyway. Metta World Peace is having the best season he's had in ages, and it hasn't even mattered.

The Lakers seem mostly just to need another coaching change, but how bad would it look to fire D'Antoni afte...

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