Gasol Ready, Christmas For Nash?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The days of both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash rocking high fashion on the Los Angeles Lakers’ bench are coming to an end.

Gasol is reportedly ready to make his return to action tonight against Charlotte, provided he gets medical clearance after this morning’s shootaround practice, ending his eight-game injury hiatus (knees) just in time for Christmas. Nash joined him on the practice floor Monday and is expected back in action for the Christmas Day showdown at Staples Center against the New York Knicks.

His return will end a near-two month stint of inactivity after Nash suffered a small crack in his fibula on Halloween.

“It’s starting to get exciting just because I’m able to do some things,” Nash told reporters after that practice. “The majority of the last six weeks have been pretty inactive. So it’s nice to be able to get out there with the guys and just see some light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s definitely sore and it’s definitely going to be a process — not just to get back to complete health but also to get back into shape. But I have to take what I can get. To be on the court sweating and playing and just working on my game a bit is important to me.”

No one is more excited about the return of these two than Lakers’ ironman Kobe Bryant, whose averaging 42 minutes a night in his past six games in an effort to will the Lakers out of their funk and back into the mix with the other contenders in the Western Conference.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni would love to unwrap a fully healthy roster against his former team on Christmas, as well. The 3-5 record the Lakers have compiled since Gasol went down has given fuel to the critics who say that this team and coach are a mismatched fit and destined to disappoint a fan base that prepared itself for a championship parade.

As much noise as we’ve made here about the Lakers’ ineptitude early on this season, there is plenty of time for them to turn things around. And it could start in the next seven days with a healthy and rejuvenated Gasol back in the fold and an inspired and crafty-as-ever Nash finally at the controls of D’Antoni’s offense. That leaves us with the same dilemma the Lakers have been facing since D’Antoni took over; how to utilize two 7-footers in the post in a scheme that requires just one.

And that’s why the only man capable of fixing this problem is D’Antoni himself, as Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times explores:

“You know, we can’t put 15 guys down there in the post,” D’Antoni said. “We can’t do it. It doesn’t work. Because if you’re posting him up, it means you’re not posting Dwight [Howard] up and then you get criticized for not posting Dwight up.

“We play Laker basketball. That ball is shared, that ball moves, we’ll score in the first 16 seconds and then after that we’ll post people up, we’ll get people in the right spots to finish off the shot clock.”

Gasol has long talked about his desire to handle the ball more near the basket during a season in which he has averaged a career-low 12.6 points while twice being benched in the fourth quarter. Is he clear about his role upon his return?

“Still a facilitator,” Gasol said with a chuckle. “Still just giving balance to our team out there and making good decisions, whether it’s scoring, passing or penetrating.”

Is that OK with him?

“Yeah,” he said. “As long as we win, as long as it works, I’m OK with everything. When it doesn’t translate to wins, when it translates to the team struggling, then I’m not that OK with it.”

I’ve said from the beginning that the Lakers would need time, and lots of it, to work through their issues. The injuries to Nash and Gasol, not to mention the coaching change, have only added to that need. Christmas was the initial target date for them to show what they were truly about, if they were going to be legitimate contenders or just play that role on paper.

So the deadline is being extended for these healthier Lakers. A few weeks to get everyone acclimated in the new system with the ideal point guard to run said system buys them a little more time.

But if they don’t have it together by Martin Luther King Jr. Day …

32 Comments

  1. killuabest says:

    Take out DumbToni and his system run and gun…Lakers will do much better without him.Laker Mgnt sign PJAX at any cost.!!

  2. Tote says:

    I think the coach has to adjust to the players, not the other way around. That’s what good coaches do. Know your team, know your players, their roles, their strengths and weaknesses and DEPENDING ON THAT you should build your SYSTEM. D’Antoni seems to be a ONE DIMENSIONAL coach. He’s forcing everything. Play in the paint, I cannot believe people are talking about trading one of the most skilled big man in the league (Yes, I’m talking about Gasol). Make your offense go through Howard and Gasol, let Nash have the ball and find spaces, free Kobe to take more easy shots, and let Metta World Peace do the dirty work. This roster is truly one of the most talented EVER, and good results are not happening because of bad coaching (forcing systems) and players EGOS. Learn from the Spurs.

  3. ThunderUp says:

    No matter what adjustment is made OKC is gonna eat this team alive, I think Spurs can also easily beat this team hahahaha! Thunder UP!

  4. Amir says:

    I LOVE KOBE’S NAME…THE IRONMAN!!! IRON MAMBA!!! KOBE ‘ROBERT DOWNEY jr” BRYANT!!!! hahahahaha

  5. nile says:

    and here comes the LA Kardashians…

  6. mmm says:

    Not even cloning Wilt, Magic & Kareem will rescue these lakers

  7. REMEDY says:

    JC111 U REALLY NEED TO DO SOME SERIOUS RESEARCH….. KG CRIED TO GET TRADED…. KOBE CRIED TO GET TRADED…… HMMM PPL DID U EVER HEAR LEBRON CRY…. OH BY THE WAY… LEBRON BROUGHT THE CAVS TO THE FINAL WITH A ROSTER NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT KOBE HAS HIS WHOLE CARRIER OF BASKETBALL….

    KOBE IS A GREAT PLAYER… HE IS COMPARED TO JORDAN…. BUT AS I ALWAYS SAY LEBRON IS COMPARED TO MORE PLAYERS…JORDAN ..MAGIC.. NOW SINCE HE STARTED POSTING HE IS BEING COMPARED TO BIG MAN AND OH DID I FORGET ..WHEN HE RUNS POINT HE IS BEING COMPARED… ITS FUNNY HOW PPL ARE JUST ONE SIDED… OPEN UR EYES

  8. MK says:

    DONT TRADE GASOL!!!!

  9. ShaggyPants says:

    Pau will brig lakers triumphs. He is full of energy and ambition to show his skill. Lts go LAkers!!

  10. Go Gasol says:

    it seems like it’s easier to get a coach, but not the player. Phil said he retired, but it looked like the Lakers could get him back coaching again if they wanted it. But if the Lakers trade Gasol, it would cost them a lot more to get Gasol or another player for equal trade..

  11. Juvie17 says:

    Lets keep it real, M D’Antoni needs to be fired…he had a mob down Phoenix and couldn’t do jack(no rings) he’s a disappointment as a coach! Lakers will be nothing…there era is done, sorry Kobe your great but not the greates…I like the lakers everyone thought oh Dwight naw he’s just big and strong…he can’t shoot! Lakers are a joke this season sorry to burst lakers(fan) bubble but truth is being told as is

  12. Tremaine Green says:

    I am Tremaine Green & 16 years old . I live in Tacoma Washington and go to Lincoln high school . I am a LA Laker fan and just want to say that the Lakers will be straight if all their players are healed all the way . Lakers should have a good chemistry with Pau, Howard, Kobe, Nash, & Meta World Peace. I hope Pau would not get traded because they will lose a talented big man .

  13. Junior says:

    Gasol is old and the lakers need a new fresh crew and drrick Williams and pekovic are a good trade. Gsaol is to soft and his going down in everything lakers need to trade gasol and also ron artest they are to old for the laker team even steve nash lakers don’t have any D NOW THEY NEED TO GET PLAYERS WHO CAN RUN UP AND DOWN THE COURT NOT SLOW IT DOWN TRADE GASOL

    • Amir says:

      junior…u really are a lil junior!!! hahahahaha ur out of ur junior lil mind if u think williams and pekovic are as good as gasol!!! hahahaha id take gasol with 40 years of age and bad arthritis over them two dudes…pffffffff

  14. Mark Williams says:

    Basically, the pundants seem to be saying that the system that Mike D’Antonio wants to currently run, he doesn’t have the personel for. If the objective is to win, then as any really good manager would do, you run the system you have the personel for until you have the personel to run the system you want to run. If D’Antonio is only single fascetted, and cannot adapt to overcome, it is a logical conclusion that the current problems are D’Antonio simply because he took the position knowing what personel he would have to work with.

  15. Go Gasol says:

    if Gasol gets traded, doesnt mean DH will automatically resign with the Lakers. Like DH asked to fire the coach in orlando and still he didnt resign. So if the Lakers trade Gasol, they’ll lose all the talented big man in the league, and when Kobe retires, they’ll build it from scratch. And, goodluck trying to get mega stars coming to your team when you dont have anyone good that already on your team. With this generation, players like Lebron will go to a great team to build his name. Unlike the Bulls was built around Jordan.

  16. Yes, it will happen says:

    The Lakers will trade Pau Gasol by trade deadline.

  17. matt says:

    For me Pau should be tade for better players than Pekovic,Williams or Bargniani,Calderon,Kleiza….. for me better option is J.Smith with K.Korver or C.Boozer or maybe T.Young ald N.Young from 76

  18. john says:

    it aint gonna work. Lakers made their mistake hiring wrong coach. Lakers are old and Mike D want to run. Not utilizing the strengths of posting 2 big guys up.WRONGO. Lakers stengths are pounding it in the inside. Running and gunning are for youngs teams like Knicks,OKC etc. IF they keep this pace up you will see further injuries and Kobe is next on that injured list. Mark my words. This running is already taken its tole on him. Ask him how his back is feeling. So as a non laker fan please keep this run,gun, long rebounds=fast break points for the other teams. LOL

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Young teams like the Knicks? SERIOUSLY… WOW. Here is a prime example of someone who doesn’t watch basketball.
      Even the Knicks rookie is 35 years old. Aren’t the Knicks the oldset team in NBA History?

  19. [...] See original article: Gasol Ready, <b>Christmas</b> For Nash? « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog [...]

  20. Go Gasol says:

    Let Gasol be Gasol!! He play best in the paint. Let him post up! Gasol and Howard can be like the Memphis Gasol and Zibo. Mike D needs to change his system to make it work. it’s not the player, it’s the coach!

    • Mala says:

      Totally agree.
      Gasol looks lost and misplaced hovering around the perimeter. Also, as much as I love Kobe and enjoy watching him play he needs to share the ball a bit more – trust that his big men and also the rest of the team will deliver. If you dont get touches, there is now way one can score. Let’s go Lakers – you guys can do it.

      Lastly, don’t lay blame on the players – the coach should take responsibility and play to the players strengths, case in point – Pau. Let’s go Pau, if anyone can do it its you – you have the best post up game and fab footwork and skills.

  21. Brian says:

    I would suggest to start pau at the bench so that he can come fresh while dwight take some rest and then at the second quarter both can play and switch them mostly with jamison and secondly with hill. Then you well get more opportunities for both dwight and pau to produce effectively. The reason is due to the main problem of the team, the ball hog kobe bryant. The future is dwight and if you don’t put him to produce, he”ll is not going to do it very well when kobe is out. And the other thing is that dwight is very immature an he needs to raise first as a person to become a professional, look how bad losers are kobe and KG… They never grew up as professionals, they are just great players. At least lebron grew more than those two.

    • nbafan59 says:

      Are you kidding me Brian? Have you not seen what Kobe does for the community and what he offers around the world? Saying Kobe is not a professional is inaccurate. Get your facts right before you use words loosely .

    • jc111 says:

      kobe and KG never grew up as professionals? they carry their team more than anyone, lebron never carry a team to win a ring. he chose to leave his team (thats really professional) and join wade and bosh, at least kobe didnt leave his team when the laker have their worst season during 04-05

    • Dann says:

      Just a friendly advice for you Brian. Go watch some other sports, maybe you could understand but forget about basketball.

  22. [...] View article: Gasol Ready, Christmas For Nash? « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog [...]

  23. dj rgm9 says:

    Starting from the bench or starter no matter,Gasol gonna bring extra production points with rebounds that’s for sure.Finaly some showtime back in the game!He’s gonna feed Dwight nicely,something what Dwight realy needs from the team.Alley oops with Dwight,Dwight gonna like it bank that!!!