Pau Gasol expresses uncertainty regarding NBA All-Star chances for Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and himself
It's very well possible that the only involvement Lakers forward Pau Gasol will have with NBA All-Star weekend involves helping out with the fan activities titled NBA Jam Session.
That's because there's plenty of uncertainty on whether Gasol, or for that matter, Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Lakers forward Lamar Odom, will play in the NBA All-Star game.
"It's hard to say," Gasol said to The Times Wednesday at Children's Hospital, where he visited and played basketball with some of the patients.
There's plenty of reasons why Gasol is so uncertain. Houston center Yao Ming has the highest number of votes among Western Conference centers, according to the latest returns and something that should hold true when the starters are announced Thursday. Since Yao is out for the season after having surgery on a stress fracture on his left ankle, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select his replacement. That won't necessarily go to Lakers center Bynum, whose second-place votes (660,576 votes) might not be enough to offset his 24-game absence while recovering from a surgically repaired right knee. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson told reporters prior to the team's 120-91 victory Tuesday over the Utah Jazz it's conceivable Dallas center Tyson Chandler could fill that spot, but it's also plausible Gasol and Spurs forward Tim Duncan could shift to center.
The forward position appears just as complicated.
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant (1,270,729) and Denver forward Carmelo Anthony (945,720) are the leading vote getters among West forwards, but Anthony's votes would carry over should he get traded to an Eastern Conference team. That scenario would enable Gasol, third with 851,456 votes, to slide in as a starter.
It's conceivable Gasol and Odom could get voted in as reserves considering coaches vote for a center, two forwards, two guards and two other players at any position. But Odom's consistency (15.6 points on 57.5% shooting and 9.5 rebounds) might not be enough against a crowded field, including Duncan, the Clippers' Blake Griffin, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Minnesota's Kevin Love. For reasons including increased attention and increased minutes because of Bynum's absence, Gasol's dip in production from November to December could also hurt his case considering the discrepancy in points (20.3, 16.3), field-goal percentage (54.1%, 49%) and rebounds per game (12.3, 9.5).
"The reserves are going to be picked by the coaches," Gasol said. "You have no control over it. It's just on the coaches' vote."
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