Pau Gasol Will Be Most Important Piece of LA Lakers’ Roster Down the Stretch

Pau Gasol is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. When he returns in what would be mid-to-late March, he'll be the most important piece of this Los Angeles Lakers team as it tries to defy the odds and make a deep run in the postseason.

He returned to Lakers practice on Monday, and tweeted this out to his fans to ensure they were staying positive about the injury:

Not all fans are mourning the Lakers' latest loss from the roster, but they should be.

While Gasol has struggled to fit in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo, high-volume shooting offense, he's poised to play a pivotal role when he returns from injury. Being forced away from the basket has hurt his shooting percentage and role with the starting five—especially with Earl Clark playing like a seasoned veteran.

If the Lakers are done accepting trade proposals for Gasol (and it seems they are, for now) then the next month-and-a-half should be about getting better within this system while waiting for Gasol's return. When he does return, his presence will be invaluable to helping the Lakers get back in the playoff mix.

Just look at the month of February.

The Lakers were 3-0 after he was re-inserted into the starting lineup for Dwight Howard and looking like they had finally found some much-needed offensive rhythm. Gasol then went down with injury, and L.A. has now proceeded to lose two out of three.

Kobe Bryant knows that Gasol is important to this team's makeup, as evidence by his quote in Eric Pincus' latest Los Angeles Times piece:

"I know the significance of Pau being out, said Bryant. A lot of people don't really understand but I understand the significance of it."

Aside from the obvious friendship the two share, Bryant knows that Gasol is one of very few people on this roster that has championship experience. Metta World Peace has some, but Gasol has been t...

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