Pau Gasol really can’t win these days. If the guy plays when he’s not well, he gets called out for his performances being sub-par. If he sits out so he can recover, he gets called out for missing games.
That’s what’s happened with him lately as he’s missed action because of a respiratory infection.
Gasol has missed three of the Lakers’ last five games, all of which were losses. ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin reports that Gasol chose not to play in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, which the Lakers lost 111-104, in an effort to completely recover from his illnesses.
According to a team source, Gasol still showed up to Lakers shootaround to lift weights Sunday, and when he told longtime trainer Gary Vitti he wanted more time to get over the infection and was not going to play against the Sixers, Vitti said to not even bother showing up to the game.
Gasol’s reasoning for taking the time off makes plenty of sense. He missed the team’s game against the Warriors on Dec. 21 to get better, but he pushed himself back and played in the team’s next two games. He said he was extremely winded after posting 13 points and 13 rebounds in a Christmas day loss to the Miami Heat.
“I tried to play through it as much as I can,” Gasol explained on Monday. “I played through it when I first got the respiratory issue earlier in the season, and I was getting killed [in the media] by not performing and all that stuff. So, when you try to play through stuff, you still don’t get any credit. And when you don’t play through stuff, you still don’t get any credit. So you’re not getting much credit when things especially aren’t working out and the team is losing. So, it is what it is. I’m just trying to do what’s best for myself and the team in this case.”
Gasol says doctors told him he has sinusitis and bronchitis, and that the only way to get better is to take time off, otherwise it will continue to get worse.
Perhaps one of the most shocking developments in all this is that coach Mike D’Antoni actually defended Gasol for sitting out. D’Antoni has been critical of Gasol throughout his tenure as Lakers coach. Last year he called out Gasol’s conditioning and said he benched the forward late in a game because he wanted to win. This year they’ve clashed over Gasol’s role in the team’s offense. Despite all this, D’Antoni told the media that Gasol could not have played in those games. Imagine that.
I actually feel badly for Gasol; he’s in a lose-lose situation, but he’s doing the right thing by sitting out so he can get better. He plans to play Tuesday. Hopefully that’s not too soon for him.