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When Pau Gasol returns he will start, D’Antoni said

Jan 16, 2013, 10:38 AM EDT

Pau Gasol Kobe Bryant Getty Images

Pau Gasol has been out more than a week with a concussion. Kobe Bryant is a little frustrated with him for showing up to practices and games, wants Gasol to sit at home in a dark room and recover. Instead Gasol has been on the bench cheering teammates.

That includes the last two games, when the Lakers seem to have found a groove with Dwight Howard looking far more healthy and active, the defense improving and the Lakers picking up easy wins. Wins that came with Earl Clark starting in Gasol’s spot and adding some needed athleticism and energy.

But when Gasol is healthy he starts again Mike D’Antoni said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Gasol won’t come off the bench when he returns, Coach Mike D’Antoni said Tuesday.

“That would be tough,” D’Antoni said, adding, “That’s not my intention right now.”

Gasol is going to come up in a lot of trade rumors over the next five weeks as we move toward the trade deadline and the Lakers are going to have a decision to make. That decision will depend a lot on the offers that come in — a 32-year-old who missed 8 games with knee tendonitis and whose numbers are down is not at the peak of his trade value. Teams are going to lowball what they see as a Lakers team desperate to move Gasol.

But the Lakers aren’t going to give him away and they are not going to take on a contract that messes with their plan for cap space in 2014. All of which makes putting a deal together all the more difficult.

So for now D’Antoni has to figure out how to use Gasol and make him fit. And where he fits at first is as a starter.

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