Separating Lakers’ Silver Lining from Wishful Thinking in Wake of Gasol Injury

Pau Gasol's torn plantar fascia, which, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, will keep the power forward "sidelined for an indefinite period," might have some pundits and fans thinking that head coach Mike D'Antoni will suddenly be able to right the Lakers' ship overnight.

Everybody knows that D'Antoni generally prefers to play with as small a lineup as possible. With Gasol out, L.A.'s mustachioed play-caller now has the ability (read: excuse) to trot out five-man units featuring, at most, one conventional big.

 Truthfully, it does seem possible that the Lakers offense could improve a bit without Gasol, especially considering his clear decline in play and the team's inability to maximize his still-valuable talents. D'Antoni will be able to insert a more useful perimeter threat in Gasol's place, which should space the floor for Howard.

And when D12 sits down (or misses time with injury), the Lakers can go even smaller. Both options seem to suit what D'Antoni has wanted to do with the team's offense all along.

Some might feel that such a change could help the pieces fall into place in the rotation and in the locker room, which could propel the Lakers to an inspiring postseason run.

But that sort of silver-lining outlook is really more like wishful thinking.


Better Offense? So What?

It's fairly obvious that if the Lakers have to make a go of it with just one of their two frontcourt stars, Howard is the better option. Even in his weakened state, D12 has soundly outproduced Gasol by any measure you'd care to use. As a catch-all, Howard's PER of 19.73 has been substantially better than Gasol's 15.90 this season.

And it's a fact that Howard has been slightly more effective when he's been in the game without Gasol. According to, Howard's plus-minus figure has been plus-3.2 per 36 minutes when he plays and Pau sits.

As a pick-...

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