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D'Antoni: Pau's impact will be in the playoffs by the time he returns [UPDATED]

Mike D'Antoni says that by the time Pau Gasol returns the Lakers playoff chances will already be sealed.


**[UPDATE: An earlier version of this report inaccurately stated that Pau Gasol will miss the remainder of the regular season. Mike D'Antoni did not provide an updated timetable on Pau Gasol's health. Updated at 11:30 a.m. EST]**

Pau Gasol continues to recover from the plantar fascia tear he suffered a few weeks ago, and Mike D'Antoni believes by the time Gasol returns whether the Los Angeles Lakers will, or won't, make the playoffs will already be decided. His impact will be in the playoffs by the time he returns, as the season will already be down to the last few games, via Mark Medina of Daily News:

"By the time he gets back, we'll be in or out," D'Antoni said. "His impact will be in the playoffs if we get there."

D'Antoni has adjusted to Pau's absence by shortening his rotation to eight guys. Over the past week, the starters have been playing at least 30 minutes a game while Steve Blake, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks have each been getting around 20 minutes a night.

D'Antoni has always been a short rotation kind of guy and he seems to be comfortable with the Meeks, Blake and Jamison trio as his key rotation players. And with the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, you should get used to this eight man unit, because they'll be the ones responsible if the Lakers are able to sneak into the post-season.

That said, if the Lakers end up caving and sign a big, everybody is down with bringing back D.J. Mbenga, right? Here's the thing about D.J.: He's got championship experience and he could probably turn Sacre's bench karate chops into lethal weapons with his judo background and all.

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