Last season, injuries destroyed the Lakers season, specifically taking out Steve Nash and Pau Gasol for extended periods of time. Both players’ absences were felt by the team, who struggled to develop chemistry and squeaked their way into the playoffs. With a new season and lower expectations, the Lakers are looking for big outputs from Nash and Gasol.
D’Antoni shed some light on his expectations for the two, specifically their playing time for next season, in a recent interview in the LA Times.
“I think Pau and Nash will be 100% before the season starts,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll try to go slow with them during preseason and make sure they’re OK. We’ll see how the season goes but maybe work with them to keep their minutes down to where it’s manageable and keep them OK.”
Lakers fans should be thrilled with this news. While the idea of less time on the court each game for Gasol and Nash is a bit worrisome, having them for all 82 games, or at least the large majority of them, is by far the better outcome.
Both Nash and Pau played 32+ minutes a game in the time they saw on the court last year. For comparisons sake, Tim Duncan played just barely 30 minutes and game while Tony Parker played near 33 minutes, but Spurs head coach Greg Poppovich rested his stars for many games, something D’Antoni could take a hint on.