Earlier on Wednesday, Eric Freeman pointed toward Metta World Peace’s competitive nature as a reason why he may try to squeeze in a quicker than usual return from a lateral meniscus tear in his left (jumping) knee. That plan may still be at the forefront of Metta’s mind, but things have been complicated significantly by the news out of Los Angeles from Wednesday afternoon. MWP will undergo surgery for his tear, damn, and he’ll be out a minimum of six weeks. From the Associated Press:
The Lakers announced the timeline on Wednesday. World Peace is scheduled to have surgery Thursday and he won't be ready when the playoffs begin next month, if the Lakers reach the postseason.
In spite of a perimeter triptych that will now feature Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks, and Kobe Bryant – three of the worst perimeter defenders in the NBA – guarding opponents, the Lakers will probably still make the playoffs. As we talked about on Tuesday, the team’s upcoming schedule and obstacles facing both the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz make any usurping a tough task. This doesn’t mean the Lakers will likely be an active NBA team when MWP is cleared to play, though. The regular season ends in three weeks, Metta probably has three weeks worth of recovery following that to work through, to say nothing of the days and games he’ll need to get up to NBA speed.
Six weeks, as prescribed, doesn’t always mean “six weeks.” As Laker forward Pau Gasol knows too well.
Gasol tore a tendon in his right foot in the first week of February. Actually, it was less of “a tendon” and more of “THE TENDON,” the plantar fascia that runs up and down the middle of the foot and makes the whole thing work. Mere tendinitis in the plantar fascia can ruin a season or even a career, so it was surprising that Gasol was given a six-to-eight week diagnosis for recovery, and came back just 43 days after the tear.
The comeback hasn’t gone all that well, in the two games since his return. Kobe Bryant, father of two young daughters, nailed the Disney description perfectly in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times:
"He's still out there with Bambi legs a little bit, having missed so much time and [not] being able to get up and down the floor," Bryant said. "So he's just got to get his legs back."
Pau does, but … damn, should Pau Gasol be playing right now?
Gasol has started twice after returning from injury, but coach Mike D’Antoni has minded his minutes – just 43 spread out over two games. Gasol missed 13 of 18 shots in those games, though, along with three of four free throws, and he’s yet to register a steal or block. It’s very true that Gasol would be facing the same sort of conditioning and rust obstacles even if he took the full eight weeks off before returning, but as it was last fall you can’t help but get the feeling that Gasol may have rushed back to prove something to the morons that continually call him “soft.”
Things may turn in an instant. Gasol may come off the bench against Minnesota, or turn the corner as a starter, or find his touch in a new offense that will feature Kobe Bryant at small forward (though that position and shooting guard are interchangeable in D’Antoni’s offense) and Jodie Meeks in the starting lineup as a replacement for World Peace. Maybe Gasol’s initial two game return was a blip. Maybe the season starts on Wednesday, for D’Antoni’s team. Maybe we’ll someday soon stop making excuses for just about everyone on this Los Angeles Laker squad.
Few of these things are likely to resolve themselves anytime soon. Get well soon, various Lakers.
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