The Lakers are leaning toward sitting Pau Gasol for the rest of the season, reports Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles times, who adds that Xavier Henry is not expected to return to the lineup either. The news may not seem too significant considering that there are only seven games left on the team’s schedule, but it’s worth noting that both Gasol and Henry are headed for unrestricted free agency this summer.
Gasol is reportedly dealing with a severe recurrence of vertigo, which has caused him to miss five of L.A.’s last six contests. Henry has dealt with knee and wrist injuries this season, and – as we noted earlier today – had recently been playing through pain against medical advice in order to prove his worth. Although Gasol’s desire to stay in Los Angeles remains a question mark, he recently said that he wouldn’t rule out returning to the Lakers if the circumstances are appropriate. On the other hand, Henry has made it publicly clear that he’d like to re-sign with the team this summer.
The 33-year-old Gasol is finishing up the final year of a three-year contract extension that he signed in 2009; his next deal would presumably be much less than the $19.3MM he made this year. Henry – finishing up his one-year deal for the NBA’s minimum salary – has been a bright spot for the Lakers this year, averaging career highs in points (10.0) and minutes (21.1). However, it’ll be interesting to see just how much he’ll be able to market himself if he undergoes wrist surgery this summer as expected.