Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol admitted that he has been playing through tendinitis in his knees since the preseason, calling the pain “a little limiting,” according to a report Tuesday from Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
“It’s been bothering me for a while, but again, you play through it and try to keep it under control. It’s a little limiting, but it is what it is. There’s not much I can do about it.”
Gasol, who is putting up career lows in points and shooting percentage, reportedly thinks the knee tendinitis flared up as the result of intense practices during the Lakers’ short-lived Mike Brown-era. Brown was fired as head coach in November after the team got off to one of its worst starts in franchise history. New head coach Mike D’antoni is seen as much more of a “players coach,” so perhaps that will translate into less grueling practices for the Lakers and thus an ease of the knee pain for Gasol.
Though Gasol said he doesn’t expect the condition to cause him to miss any games, he did say that it is definitely affecting his “explosiveness,” ability to jump, speed and overall athleticism:
“It’s been under control, more or less. Hopefully it won’t force me to miss games, unless I feel like my percentage of performance is way down and I just can’t do that to myself or to the team.”
Kobe Bryant had called into question Gasol’s conditioning and intensity in games recently, saying the Spaniard is going to have to “put the motor on” after being so used to “coasting” up the floor, according to a report last week from Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News:
“Pau is used to laboring up the floor and coasting a little bit. In this offense, we have to put the motor on the first few steps we move up the court.”
D’antoni, perhaps in an echoing of that sentiment, added to the criticism by simply saying that Gasol “didn’t have his legs.” Bryant and D’antoni’s comments came following a 113-97 loss on Nov. 21 in Sacramento against the Kings.
The Lakers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second of the playoffs last season, but Gasol didn’t have a lot of time to rehab any injuries. He played in the Olympics throughout the summer, coming one win shy of gold in the championship against Bryant and the U.S. team, and then reported to training camp about a month later.