Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

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


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.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.