With Pau Gasol out for an undetermined period of time due to a tear of the plantar fascia, the Los Angeles Lakers will have to come up with an answer to fulfill the hole left by the power forward/center.
Gasol had started 29 games for the Lakers this season, averaging eight rebounds and 13.4 points per game.
Despite Gasol's numbers, the Lakers have underperformed this season and currently have a 23-26 record.
Assuming that Gasol will be out for a significant amount of time, the Lakers will have a few options going forward if they hope to at least get by while Gasol is out.
The most basic option would be for the Lakers to stick with Gasol's backup, Earl Clark, who shined against against the Brooklyn Nets the night that Gasol first went down.
Clark had 14 points on a 6-for-9 shooting night in 41 minutes of play. Clark had also played in two games prior to that against the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves, both of which turned out to be wins for the Lakers.
Against the Pistons, Clark had 17 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in LA's 98-97 win.
Sticking with Clark wouldn't be the flashiest move for the Lakers to make, but it would certainly be the safest.
LA could also go after a free agent on the market to replace Gasol and could look to sign a player to a 10-day contract or to a contract for the rest of the season. Possible candidates for that signing include Kenyon Martin, former Laker Brian Cook or even Greg Oden.
If Los Angeles chooses to go down this path, their best bet would be Martin, who probably would ask for a contract for the rest of the season. Coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Martin shot 44 percent from the floor and averaged 8.6 points per game. Not the best numbers, but Martin at least has the experience and the track record.
Los Angeles could also choose to go after a conventional trade before the Feb. 21 deadline, but because Gasol and Jordan Hill are both hurt, it's unlikely that they would be very hot commodities on the market.
When point guard Steve Nash returned from injury, Lakers fans hoped it would bring a spark back to the team, but it hasn't changed much, leaving for the focus to remain on Bryant and Howard anyways.
If the stars on the Lakers roster don't step up, then the front office might want to look to other options while they try and make a push for the playoffs without Gasol.
All stats acquired from ESPN
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