Kamenetzky: The Cali Report: What now for Lakers? Test week for full cast of Warriors

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In the wake of the Pau Gasol news (torn plantar fascia, probably out at least a month), the fault lines, story lines and the overall basketball landscape in California continue to shift without any forewarning.

Aftershocks, anyone?

Never in the history of the NBA (since Kings came to Cali from KC) have all four California teams been so simultaneously newsworthy.

With the All-Star break fast approaching, teams always look to gain as much momentum as possible before recharging the batteries.

In the case of the Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors, the Basketball Gods seem disinclined to offer a break in their quest… beyond not making them the Kings, of course.

Life is simply never easy in the NBA. In any event, here’s what the next seven days hold …

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (23-26)

The news of Pau Gasol’s Boston MRI is in, and it ain’t good. Having dealt with plantar fasciitis all season, Gasol felt a “pop” during the closing minutes of Tuesday’s win in Brooklyn. The Spaniard couldn’t finish the game, and admitted his concern for the worst. Well, the Lakers today sent official word that Gasol has a partial tear of the plantar fascia, and will undergo a second examination.  CBS Sports’ Ken Berger was the first to report the big man will be out an estimated six weeks — if not longer.

With Gasol joining Jordan Hill (out for the season with hip surgery) to watch games in street clothes, the Lakers are now decidedly low on true big men, which theoretically increases the pressure on Dwight Howard to take the court ASAP, torn right shoulder labrum be damned.

Then again, maybe not. Before bowing out of the Nets game, Howard neatly summarized why he’s comfortable exercising caution. Per Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:

“It’s my career. There’s no need for me to prove anything to anyone.”

It’s understandable Howard would be concerned about further damaging his shoulder, but those comments will undoubtedly rub many Lakers fans the wrong way, given the uphill battle to make the postseason. Plus, they’ve grown accustomed to watching Kobe Bryant, by and large, treat injuries like Dalton from “Road House.”  But in fairness to Howard, there’s more at play than his pain threshold or risk aversion. Until last season’s back injury, he’d spent his career as an indestructible cyborg, missing just seven games over the first seven seasons. Thus, he’s not versed in the art of playing through injury, a skill players can’t master before living through it.

(LOOKING FOR LAKERS TICKETS? LOOK NO FURTHER)

Take the word of The Black Mamba himself, asked after the Nets game if he questioned Howard’s toughness. Per ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin:

“I think it’s an experience thing. Like for me, when I was growing up in high school and middle school, unfortunately but fortunately, I dealt with injuries. Not injuries that are debilitating, but injuries that you have to play through and you have to manage the pain. So when you go through those things, you learn your body and you know what you can push through and know what you can’t push through.

“But Dwight’s never been hurt. (His back’s) something that’s debilitating. He couldn’t play (with it). So when you have an injury that hurts you, but you can play through it, that’s something that you have to balance out and manage. He’s never had to do that.”

Granted, Bryant also said the circumstances could prompt Howard to hasten his return, and if Kobe gets a vote, I’m guessing it would be for the center to lace ‘em up. The point is that it’s not purely a matter of one’s willingness to bite the bullet. It’s knowing what to do once the bullet is between your teeth.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (34-16)

With half of an eight-game roadie in the books, the Clippers arrived today in Orlando 1-3 on the trip.

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Comments

  1. Pau definitely showed his value the past three games and that he deserves to be a starting center in this league. If the Lakers truly want to demonstrate they are all-in on Howard, why not trade Pau now? Both KG and Josh Smith seem like realistic options that can stretch the floor in a semi-D’Antoni system and provide a few extra blocks on defense. If we have no intention of firing D’Antoni or trading Howard, then we owe it to Pau and the two rings he brought the franchise to give him a fresh start in a city that wants to feature him.

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