With Bynum Out, Is Gasol’s Load Too Heavy?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    He's not underpaid, but is he overworked?

    Against Oklahoma City Tuesday night, Pau Gasol played 42 minutes. Against Minnesota it was 49 in an overtime game. In the Lakers' last 10 games, Pau Gasol has averaged 42 minutes a contest.

    That is coming off a summer where Gasol played for his native Spain in the Olympics. With a playoffs coming where the Lakers will need a 100% Gasol, are the Lakers wearing him down now and asking too much of him?

     

    “No, not yet,” [Phil Jackson] said after Sunday’s victory against Minnesota. “Maybe in April at some point we may watch it. We’ve shut down players before and gave them a week off here and there — players that we thought needed the rest at times during the end of the regular season. But at this particular point, we’re still pushing on.”

     

    Jackson and the Lakers are in a Catch 22. They desperately want home court advantage in the playoffs, to get that they need to win games now. With Bynum down, that means more Gasol -- Josh Powell has been a solid sub off the bench, but he cannot begin to do everything Gasol can. With Gasol playing more minutes, the Lakers are 11-1, the plan works.

    But the price to pay is a tired Gasol, something he admitted to after the Minnesota game. The good news is Gasol is 28, not 38, he is young and can handle some added minutes. The other good news is that, thanks to television, the first round of the playoffs drags out for seemingly a month, with a lot of days off. There are no back-to-backs in the playoffs, there is time to rest.

    And there will be more time to rest this summer, and possibly reflect on the NBA championship that home court advantage helped win for the Lakers.