Pau Gasol’s Health Woes Continue

Darius Soriano —  December 26, 2013

For nearly a week now, Pau Gasol has been dealing with an upper respiratory infection. It kept him out of the game against the Warriors this past Saturday and had him looking quite sluggish in losses to the Suns (Monday) and Heat (Wednesday). Today he saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist, missed practice, and may not play Friday against the Jazz. From ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin on twitter:

McMenamin clarified that the big Spaniard is listed as “day to day” (aren’t we all?) and that he theoretically could still travel to Utah tomorrow and play against the Jazz. That, however, is very unlikely and we might as well get used to the idea that Chris Kaman will start and that Hill and Sacre will see the majority of the back up minutes at the Center position.

I know Pau has not been at his best this year, but this illness really does come on the heels of one of his better stretches of the season. Before the aforementioned three games where he either didn’t play or played poorly, Pau had a six gam stretch where he shot above 50% in all but one game including back to back 21 point efforts in wins over the Grizzlies and Timberwolves. After finally looking healthy after the ankle sprain he suffered a couple of weeks back, he really was playing well (at least offensively) and was starting to show flashes of his old self. Now, however, he’s back on the shelf with an chest infection that is clearly affecting his endurance and his activity level on the floor.

How long Pau sits out is an unknown, but I’d honestly prefer he be completely healthy before he returns to the lineup. When he’s not at his best physically — especially when it’s related to an illness that affects his endurance — he can be quite the liability defensively (even more than usual) as he’s a beat slow rotating in the half court and can lag behind the play several steps in transition. Further, he’s not nearly as active as he needs to be on the glass and that compromises the full integrity of what the team wants to do on that side of the ball. I’d prefer the team just play Hill, Kaman, and Sacre and let them provide all they can until Pau can rejoin the lineup and play at his best.

Darius Soriano

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38 responses to Pau Gasol’s Health Woes Continue

  1. 2 agonist Utah 1 agonist Bucks are all winnable and Pau was coughing and looked sick. He should take these games off. Kamen and Sac will go 20 and 15 I predict.

  2. This is a time for Kaman to play and for Jordan Hill to excel. The next few games are entirely win-able. Not having Pau should not change that. (In some respects, it might help.) But Hill has got to play some serious minutes.

    That said, I wish Pau a speedy recovery. He actually didn’t sound very good in the interviews after the last 2 games. If he’s too ill to play, I’m really not surprised.

    Get well soon, big guy.

  3. Kaman seems like a good character guy.
    He’s stayed classy (nod to Burgundy) despite spotty minutes.
    I hope he plays well enough to earn Dantoni’s respect so he’ll stay in the rotation after Pau returns.

  4. Over and over again people say Hill should have his minutes increased. I am not in favor of decreasing his minutes, but he is definitely a limited energy player. We should structure when he should play, so that he most benefits the team, but increasing him to a 30min player is not an answer.

  5. but increasing him to a 30min player is not an answer.

    Do you have data to support this? As I said before, D’Antoni believes this, and he may be right, but I have not seen any numbers on it. I don’t know, for example, if Hill plays worse when he plays over 20 minutes, or if he is less productive in minutes 25-32 than at other times, on the rare occasions he plays that much. Hill is averaging 20.7 MPG as of today.

  6. If Jordan Hill played 32 min a night he’d average 16 and 12. He’s a terrific player.
    Those numbers are enhanced when you consider many of his points are “second-chance” points when he gets offensive rebounds most players wouldn’t even gather.
    Often he grabs offensive rebounds and kicks out to teammates. This means added possessions for the team.
    I hope he can be retained next year.

  7. I love Jordan Hill but the data is there, his drop of production after having those spectacular games as a starter was almost as spectacular as his rise. He is a great energy guy coming of the bench but he havent shown he can sustain those numbers for an extended period of time as a starter. I do agree he needs to be out there more. Im no doctor by any stretch of the imagination but i believe that recurring respiratory ilness should be analized more deeply, i hope is not something more dangerous, hope the big Spaniard recovers soon

  8. I too would like to retain Jordan Hill for next year. I think he is an extremely valuable player and easily fits the “glue” category, as well the type of player that simply can dominate the boards. I have seen his numbers and energy plateau out as his minutes approach normal starters minutes. When he gets tired the other team seems to make a run and grab all the rebounds. This may also be because his teammates rely on him to get rebounds, while they do other things, and when he slows down the entire team gets out-of-kilter.

  9. @Ken, stop texting and driving lol

  10. Easy stretch coming up here. We should win at least 3 out of the next 4.
    Young: He is obviously playing well and above expectations. Two questions. 1) Right now he is basically – “the man”. I don’t think he can be “the man” on a contender. So can he adjust his game to be a 7th man type of guy for a good team? He has not been able to do that in the past. More directly – Can he be effective with Kobe? 2) He has a player option, so if this keeps up – then what? Do we use part of our star money on him?

  11. If Young continues anything like his current play, he will earn a contract with someone next year. My guess would be that some club will overpay him and it won’t be the Lakers, but he may stay here if he determines his long term interests would be better served with a couple of years as the go-to player after Kobe Bryant. My guess is that he would not exercise his player option – and this possibility becomes greater with every game.

  12. Fern

    Wish I could but this app on this phone dozen ‘t work on this site . I find I am the only one working yet I am paying sales people. I feel like the Brooklyn Nets of the wine business .

  13. It works fine on my phone, i always comment here from it but not while driving, dont fall of the face off the earth bc of something happens while texting on the road. The Nets if the wine business? YIKES

  14. Went to 3 theaters here in Newport to try and see Wolf of Wallstreet. All. 3 sold out. Easier to get Lakers Xmas Ticks. This haven’t ‘t happened around here for 20 years. Must be a bunch of stock brokers planning their next heist going tonight!

  15. I say that Jordan Hill needs more minutes simply because the Lakers are averaging a league-worst -5 in Rebounding against opponents. And it seems to me that they’re almost always getting killed on their defensive glass (i.e., their opponents are grabbing a lot of offensive rebounds). Also, the Lakers’ interior defense leaves a lot to be desired. (Of course, that’s no news flash).

    Meanwhile, in the Miami game, Hill had 10 rebounds, 3 blocks (including back-to-back blocks against Chris Bosh for the defensive play of the game), and 3 steals. But he only played 24 minutes in a tight game. And he was out of the game for the last 6 minutes (which drove me nuts).

    So, even if he doesn’t play 30 minutes per game, I can certainly say that he needs more than the 20.7 minutes per game that he’s averaging and probably more than 24. To me, 27 or 28 seems about right.

    But quite aside from numbers, I think Hill should be in the line up at the end of a game. Whenever he finishes a game, especially if it’s a tight game, he seems to make things happen. Am I the only one who thinks that?

  16. Mid

    But that would take minutes from Williams and his 3 points per game.

    Some things are very confusing to me. MD issues with Kamen and love for Williams are the top of my New Years list.

  17. Am I the only one who thinks that?

    No, but I think there are a few things going on. First, while I think Hill is a pretty good player, I think he is a bit overrated by some of the metrics, which emphasize rebounding and efficiency. Hill has short arms, and while he moves his feet well, he is not a good rim protector. Second, I think the moves that the Lakers have made since Howard left make it pretty clear that D’Antoni wants someone at the 4 who can shoot the 3. Rather than giving Hill the job, the Lakers have brought in Shawne Williams off the scrap heap and started him, tried Wesley Johnson at the 4, and drafted Ryan Kelly. Those moves, plus MDA’s comments about Hill, as well as his issues with Hill in NY, indicate pretty strongly that D’Antoni is simply not a fan of Hill’s game. Third, Williams, although his individual numbers are putrid, does have better–far better–on/off numbers than Hill does. Hill’s Net48 as per 82games.com is -3.6. Williams’ is +4.9. Obviously, there is a lot of noise in those numbers, but the fact is that the team has played better with Williams on the floor than with Hill on it.

    Basically, I think MDA thinks that Hill is a 15 MPG backup small-ball-5 energy guy. MDA gives Hill a little more burn than that since the Lakers are so talent-challenged upfront, but I don’t think that D’Antoni sees Hill as a guy that he really wants going forward.

    Personally, I think that since the team has made this massive commitment to Kobe, the guys to keep are:

    Johnson
    Farmar
    Hill
    Henry

    All of them are reasonable defensive options with pretty good lateral movement, which you desperately need around Kobe, and two of the four (Johnson and Hill) don’t need the ball much on offense. I would keep Henry since he is young, can score a little, and can fill in at the 2, the 3, and in an emergency, the 1. He is a guy whom you can plug in at the 2 next year when Kobe needs–or is forced–to take a night off. Farmar has pretty good foot speed, won’t cost that much, and is a guy whom Kobe likes from the glory days. So, to me, these are the guys to hold on to.

    However, what I think about Hill doesn’t really matter, and IMO MDA doesn’t think much of Hill. Therefore, Hill probably has more value to the Lakers as a chip to move than as a player to use, looking ahead.

  18. Chris Paul is stupid stupid stupid GOOD.

    Makes me mad and sick.

  19. Mid-Wilshire,
    I agree with you about Hill being in at the end of games, but rr does make good points about the comparison between Hill and Williams.

    Perhaps Hill should replace Pau when the game needs defense down the stretch. We might suffer in the rim protection, except that Pau isn’t much of a rim protector – therefore a wash.

  20. If I was MDA and I heard my front office mates raise the issue about Hill, this is how I would answer it (making sure Hill doesn’t hear it):

    Jordan Hill is an exceptional rebounder. We all know this. He gives you excellent efficiency in limited minutes. However, when those minutes are stretched, he becomes less effective. For all the love we give Hill, he has his limitations, esp offensively and interior defense. This evidenced by his being foul-prone which further justifies his minutes be limited. Sometimes its self-inflicted.

    For a team that lacks so much interior defense, fouling becomes the resort. Unless you are ok with giving up layup after layup. Jordan Hill also operates well as a small-ball center rather than a conventional power forward, because its at these times when he can showcase his rebounding prowess. As a power forward, he has been very average. No data needed here, just an eye test of the 29 games we’ve played so far.

    When he’s a center, his rebounding goes up. But he also limits himself by being foul prone. As a power forward, he is average and he offers slightly better rebounding at the expense of bad offense and lack of pace. Pick your poison.

    When you look at the team dynamic, Shawne Williams is the only stretch-4 in the lineup. This is the reason why he gets so much burn as opposed to “popular demand” that he be sent to Siberia. This plus the fact that team defense is better with Shawne Williams playing, should upset the “fan” base more.

    Pau Gasol is immobile. He is no longer the PF he once was. He used to be a PF and he was quick and long. Now he’s just long and slow. With every game he shows his age and decline. He’s a center now. But his post defense remains porous. His blocking is inconsistent and he isn’t really an intimidating presence inside.

    Chris Kaman is old as well. He tries hard when he gets the chance to play but he’s slower than Hill and Pau. He has good range so he can manage the midrange but his slow-footedness does not need advance metrics to prove.

    So here we are, we have 3 centers and 1 stretch-four. Without Kobe we cannot be playing slow otherwise our lack of talent will show. We’ve been winning more games without Kobe because we’ve pushed the pace and alot of times our superior athleticism (can’t believe I post this compared to last year’s team) is giving us easy baskets and open threes.

    Once we get a real PF by trading Pau or Kaman, we will get a better grasp of how to play this rotation. For now, this is how we make do.

  21. The game at Utah tonight (no I won’t be posting 1st no more) will showcase what this team can be if we indeed traded Pau. While we complain about many things on Pau’s game (me included) we will also most-definitely struggle to score without a skilled big man and playmaker from the post.

    This is a good way to see how to move forward, perhaps also another aspect to consider if we indeed moved him at all. Will we resemble a team thats going to be content playing without a star and how the team would look like (fans included) if we indeed was without him. If you see fans complaining right now, just wait till you see our offense stagnate without Pau.

    In the discussed/mentioned probe with the struggling Knicks, the Lakers are said to have inquired about Tyson Chandler. While the defense would be significantly better in such a scenario, where would the offense come from?

    The Utah Jazz symbolize a team thats really painful to watch. They been alot better with Burke coming back from his thumb injury and that includes Marvin Williams as a stretch-four beside Derrick Favors and have Enes Kanter off the bench. Gordon Hayward is the team’s best player and playmaker and he’s going to be a restricted free agent next season. If the Jazz win the Wiggins lottery, would they consider not getting Hayward back?

    This is a team thats young and rebuilding but without Kobe and Pau, is no cakewalk.

  22. Warren i dont take wins for granted with this team, specially on the road. And without Pau? I love the effort and all but it really agravates me that this team cant box out to save its life, this should be a win we have the best team for a change even decimated by injuries but im not so sure.

  23. having kurt rambis on the coaching staff, one would think that boxing out is a given and yet as many have pointed out for several weeks now, a refresher would deem necessary:

    http://youth.usab.com/practice-time/defense/close-out-box-out-drill.htm

    Go lakers

  24. Really, boxing out has not been a Laker strength for quite some time. Even our championship years we weren’t really great at this. I remember screaming repeatedly at the TV that a simple box-out would have made things easier. With Pau playing center this has always been a bit of a weakness – I know, I do rag on Pau a lot. I love him, but he is an excellent player with some basic flaws and now getting old – perhaps the European influence so often mentioned on this blog, but that is obviously a gross generalization.

    “…with some basic flaws and now getting old” — Look who is talking. I have been watching the Lakers since the 60′s and I am calling Pau old???

    Anyway, I think we notice it more now because our front court is so weak. Phew! Dwight leaving certainly exposed a black hole.

  25. I don’t necessarily agree with D’Antoni about Hill; I was just saying what I think MDA’s view of the situation is.

  26. rr,

    I understand. I think you’re right on MDA’s view of Hill. I just think D’Antoni needs Hill more than he realizes.

  27. if changes in the starting rotation were a statistic, who would be in second place? with kaman starting and sacre as the back up; someone should be coming up with a new and improved nba video game featuring the ever evolving lakers where as gamers we could participate in selecting playing times and player combinations versus teams laker play.. we could use real time (edit out for commercials) and cross compare them to video game results. for lack of a better word, coach in a box. just a thought on this, a travel day for the lakers.

    Go lakers

  28. Here are the Lakers Floor-time stats, as per 82games.com

    http://www.82games.com/1314/1314LAL1.HTM

    All the plus guys are bench guys; all the minus guys are starters. Most people agree that Steve Blake was doing a good job this year, and he clocks in at -126, worst on the roster.

    So, the starters have been blown out a few times, and The Chaos Unit, as Darius calls them, have had some big moments–opener vs. the Clippers, 4th quarter run vs POR–that have spiked their numbers. Part of this IMO is that the Lakers have a team with a bunch of guys who are more or less equally effective; none of them is great, obviously, but none of them is terrible, either, if you don’t count the version of Nash that we saw. (Williams is actually the worst player on the team by PER). The Lakers as we have seen don’t really change in quality all that much when the bench comes in.

    The Lakers have eleven guys with PERs between 11 and 17, counting Kobe. They have nine guys between 13 and 17 (Kobe and Johnson are both around 11).

  29. Young was a really good bench player for the Clips…was on the floor for the historic comeback game against Memphis!

  30. I have solved the center problem. It’s from recent Laker game on my Facebook cover. And I am 6’3′ so you figure out how tall he is.
    Ken Ochetti

  31. Russell Westbrook had knee surgery again today and will be out until the ASG.

  32. Kaman is only 31
    He just looks older cuz he looks like the abominable snowman

  33. Craig W: “Dwight leaving certainly exposed a black hole.” Actually DH leaving was the supernova that created the black hole. The key now is to not get vacuumed in : )
    rr So is it more like that KB or RW plays in the ASG?
    Future: So – we are trying to develop players for our future correct? Yet – I have read multiple posts that indicate that both Young and Hill are most likely in different unis next year. Sooo – can someone please give me a dose of optimism for the future?
    We are about go on a 4-1 streak here. Not that my game prediction record is very good, but I did predict our last mini-roll. This will be another. Please keep perspective during and after the roll : )

  34. Craig, i have to disagree there, one of the strenghts of the Lakers during those last 3 Finals appereances was rebounding, it was very rare to see the Lakers outrebounded, even when Mike Brown was here the Lakers if i remembered correctly they lead the league in rebounds abd Pau could go for 14-15 rebounds at anytime same with Bynum plus Lamar was a pretty good rebounder too even last year we were a good rebounding team. This season has been a steep drop in all facets of rebounding.

  35. Robert- here’s a dose of optimism.
    Next season:
    If we aren’t able to corral Carmelo, Lakers will probably retain Young and Hill.
    And probably Farmar and Henry.
    That will at least keep us entertaining.
    I’ve been a Pau fan for years but it does seem like his best days are in the rear view mirror and fading fast.
    So if we can keep a few of our young and productive pieces, and Kobe returns and can at least give us his best at around 75%, AND we can add just one more athletic wing or big– we’ll compete. If a healthy Nash returns (I know, it’s a long shot) that will add to the fun.
    I think the Lakers will be smart enough to hang on to some of the pieces that the fans seem to appreciate now- they know it’s about selling tickets.
    So I think we’ll compete AND entertain for the next couple years.
    That’s a positive outlook, right?
    Then– if we can pick up K Love after next season – watch out.
    Championship optimism will have to wait til then.

  36. Fern,

    You’re right (although I haven’t verified the statistics). I don’t ever remember a recent Lakers team getting killed on the boards like this one. We’re minus 5 in rebounding differential, the worst in the league. That’s why we need you-know-who to play more than 20.7 minutes per game.

  37. Fern – you are correct. For the 2008 – 2010 three straight Finals appearances, we were 8h, 5th, and 7th in rebounding differential. In 2011 we finished 5th. Then in 2012 we jumped to 2nd. In 2013 we dropped to 9th, and then this year we have plummeted to 30th (last in the league). There are a couple of obvious reasons why this happened.

  38. So let me get this straight, we allowed the Jazz who are 8-23 and avg 92 ppg 55 first half points, i was going change tvs because i swear there is something wrong with it.