With the Los Angeles Lakers season over, Pau Gasol is doing what he can to get healthy for next year.
The veteran underwent a procedure on both knees on Thursday to help him recover from the injuries he suffered over the past few months. Dr. Steve Yoon of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic used a “FAST technique” on Gasol, which removes degenerated tissue in the big man’s patellar tendons nonsurgically.
Gasol was forced to sit out 33 games because of multiple injuries, including knee tendinitis. He’s projected to need 12 weeks before he can start doing any basketball-related activities.
The procedure might not come at an ideal time for the Lakers, who still have a lot of decisions to make regarding Gasol’s future. He’s entering the final year of his contract and is set to make over $19.2 million. Whether L.A. decides to trade him or use the amnesty clause to release him, there’s a good chance the seven-footer won’t be on the team next year.
In his last meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchack, Gasol admitted that he wasn’t given any assurances he’d return to Los Angeles in 2013-2014. He’s expressed an interest in staying with the club, and Kobe Bryant has indicated that he wants to try and win a third championship with Gasol. Still, the veteran’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors for the past few years and L.A. may try to pull the trigger in the offseason.
Gasol’s injury, though, could affect the Lakers plans. Not many teams will want to give up talent for a 33-year-old who has bad knees. He already had a poor season in 2012-2013, averaging a career-low 13.7 points per game. Teams will be even more skeptical about trading for Gasol after the recent procedure.
The Lakers could amnesty Gasol if they really want to get rid of his contract. Doing so would save the team a lot of money and help them with flexibility in trying to sign free agents. However, they might be reluctant to let a four-time All-Star go for nothing.
The injury doesn’t completely rule out the team from trading Gasol. His expected recovery time has him playing basketball in August, which will be plenty of time to get ready for the season.