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Report: Gasol won't lose starting job when he returns

The SportsXchange

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol was scheduled to miss his fourth fourth straight game on Sunday because of knee tendinitis, but coach Mike D'Antoni said that when he does return he will be a starter, ESPN.com reported.

"Not yet, that's not what we need to be doing right now," D'Antoni told ESPN.com regarding the possibility of Gasol coming off the bench. "We need to find him and Steve (Nash) in there together and look at it and make a good assessment. I envision him being really good at what he does at the four, so I don't see that."

There had been reports speculating that Gasol might be a sixth man when he is healthy enough to play.

But D'Antoni said that Gasol will remain a starter even if he's back before Nash returns.

"I'm not going to mess with Pau," D'Antoni said. "He's too important to the team and he's earned it and he's too good of a player to even go there. That would be a last resort kind of desperate (move)."

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