For the first time since the end of the Damian Jones era, the Los Angeles Lakers will have a true center at their disposal, as Frank Vogel announced that Marc Gasol is expected to be available when his team takes on the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
“We expect Marc to return tonight on a minutes restriction of 15 minutes,” Vogel said at shootaround on Thursday. “He went through shootaround and looked good. The question mark with Marc right now is his conditioning and his legs, and that’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on.”
Gasol has been a DNP-CD the last two games because of his conditioning, but he missed the seven games before that due to NBA health and safety protocols. Gasol last played for the Lakers in their win against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 28. He tallied 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal that night.
Now that Gasol is back into the fold, albeit on a minutes restriction, Vogel will finally have the ability to play lineups with a true center again. Devontae Cacok, who’s listed as 6’8, started at center for the Lakers on Tuesday and Markieff Morris, who’s listed as 6’9, started at center the game before that. They did their best, but they couldn’t help the fact that opposing centers were just bigger.
In addition to his size and ability to clog the paint, Gasol will also bring some much-needed playmaking to the Lakers. Expect Vogel to stagger him and Schröder as much as possible until LeBron James returns, or until they find more playmaking on the buyout market.
The Lakers and 76ers will tip-off at 7 p.m. PT, and the game will be broadcast on TNT.