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Mike D’Antoni says Gasol will start when he comes back

Dec 10, 2012, 8:01 AM EDT

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Lakers fans are desperate. Mike D’Antoni is not that desperate. Yet.

Lakers fans have been dreaming up ways to shake up a lackluster team and some latched on to the leaked idea of Pau Gasol as a sixth man when he returns from rest to heal up his knee tendonitis.

Mike D’Antoni isn’t there yet, as reported by Dave McMenamin at ESPNLA.com.

“Not yet, that’s not what we need to be doing right now,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of the possibility of using Gasol in a sixth man role. “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.”

“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).”

I understand where D’Antoni is coming from — he wants to see what it looks like when Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard all share the court.

But with the team 9-12 there is not a lot of patience in Lakers nation. And bad knees or no it was clear Gasol was uncomfortable in D’Antoni’s offense.

Gasol could come back during the Lakers four-game road trip this week, he has missed four games and gotten rest and treatment. He’ll try moving on the court again soon and see how he feels, D’Antoni said. There is no timetable yet for Nash, who has missed 19 games and could be back this week from his broken leg. Or not. Nobody knows.

But once he does, maybe then we will see what D’Antoni envisions. If it doesn’t work quickly, don’t be shocked if the “Gasol off the bench” talk resurfaces.

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