Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol missed his seventh straight game Friday because of tendinitis in both knees. The team managed to win for just the second time without him, besting the Washington Wizards 102-96.
When Gasol missed his first game to rest his knees nearly two weeks ago in Houston, the four-time All-Star called it "funny" that the Lakers listed his injury status as day-to-day. So, the Spaniard went about setting his own return timetable Friday.
Would he return Sunday against Philadelphia?
"Doubtful," Gasol said, before checking to make sure he was using the right sports availability terminology. "Doubtful? Is that like the lowest degree of [likelihood]?"
How about Tuesday at home against Charlotte?
"Questionable," Gasol said.
Then surely, next Saturday on the road against Golden State?
"That’s probable," Gasol said.
So, that would make a Christmas Day rematch against the New York Knicks in L.A. a definite, right?
"I wish," Gasol said. "There’s no definites right now."
Despite not wanting to lock in a certain return date, Gasol was upbeat about how he was feeling after deciding to sit out.
"We’re taking a step in the right direction, so we’re seeing progress," Gasol said. "So, it’s been positive so far."
The 12-year NBA veteran said he has begun running on the treadmill, and hopes to assume on-court activities when the team returns home next week after its four-game road trip ends in Philadelphia on Sunday.
"We don’t want to risk going back to the way it was before," Gasol said, “so we’re taking one step at a time so we don’t have any setbacks and I don’t have to be out there longer than I need to.”
Even though the Lakers have gone just 2-5 without him, Gasol was confident he made the right decision to rest when he did.
"For sure," Gasol said. "I have no doubt. Unfortunately, we haven’t obtained the results that I would like to -- that we would like to as a team lately -- but hopefully, it will be all for the better later on.”
"It feels better. My knees feel better. My body overall feels better, just from not putting my body through the pounding and the load of the games.”
Gasol also pointed out how the bursitis in his right elbow had died down. “That’s what you expect with rest," he explained.
Gasol will need to be healthy if the plans Kobe Bryant has for him are to pan out when he is back in the fold.
"When Pau gets back, we’re going to play through him a great deal," Bryant said after the Wizards game. "Probably at the start of the shot clock, we’ll move around the perimeter, this that and the other. Last 10 seconds of the shot clock -- when we don’t have anything -- we’ll post him up. Then he can make plays and make guys better, which he’s fantastic at."
Steve Nash (fractured fibula, left leg) told reporters on Thursday he also planned to return to practice next week.
Nash and Gasol could end up making their returns together.
"I think we both see each other making progress because we both work out at the same times, and I think we both feel like we’re in the right direction," Gasol said. "We’re feeling better about our issues, so we never want to anticipate or get ahead of yourself too quickly. But we both look forward to get back playing.
“I know he’s been out a little bit longer than I have, and I think this has been the longest he’s been out of his career, so he can’t wait to get back out."
Bryant said that the wait has been challenging for Nash.
"He’s trying to keep it together," Bryant said. "He’s trying to keep it together. I can sense the frustration and kind of the antsy-ness for him to get going, but he’s doing a good job kind of keeping it under wraps."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.