We've been waiting for Pau Gasol — he of recent CSI: Miami fame — to return from his "day-to-Christmas" injury for weeks now. Well, last night, in a game break interview during the Lakers rout of the Pistons, Gasol stated with quite a bit of optimism that he hopes to play against Chicago tomorrow night.
Neither Gasol nor the Lakers are making any guarantees about the exact date of his return, including whether or not he will play against Chicago. But the most encouraging part of this announcement wasn't in the details; it was in Pau's upbeat demeanor.
Throughout this extended process, Gasol's candor regarding his frustration with the injury has been very transparent. Rarely do players express their disappointment, frustration, and honest concern and worry regarding injuries that are classified as "day-to-day," the way Gasol did. He wasn't just frustrated — he freely admitted to being upset, antsy, angry, depressed, and more than a little worried. He repeatedly expressed that we should be very concerned by the way the injury was sticking around.
Doctors may not have agreed, but if nothing more, it was a pretty clear indicator of how close to coming back Gasol was not.
As of last night's interview, that has completely changed. Gasol was upbeat, hopeful, and optimistic, and clearly excited to be returning to the court very soon. Coming from someone who was so hesitant to express any sort of optimism before, and who has stated more than once that his intent is to be very cautious and take it very slow, this can probably be taken as a sign that this ordeal really is ending, and that his impending return will be not only soon, but also safe.
I'd call Gasol's return against Chicago about a 70% likelihood, and overall, I'd conclude that when he does return — almost certainly by Sunday's game against the Thunder, if I'm reading this correctly — it should be for good, and without further complications.