Pau Gasol is still regarded as one of the best big men in the NBA, but he has struggled to display the kind of talent that helped the Los Angeles Lakers win two titles in 2009 and 2010.
In 2012-13, the Spaniard has struggled, posting a career-low average of 12.6 points and shooting 42 percent on field goals. He's been benched twice in the fourth quarter of close games because head coach Mike D'Antoni thought a different combination of players gave the Lakers a better chance to win.
He's been the odd man out, but that doesn't mean they're giving up on him.
The Lakers are 9-12 and have struggled on both ends of the floor, especially defense. Gasol has been a non-factor of late as he deals with a diminished role and tendonitis in both of his knees. That's a sign that he's being underutilized.
In the Lakers' new offense, especially when Steve Nash returns from an injury of his own, Gasol will find plenty of open mid-range shots. He's a capable shooter from there, but he's more effective in the post, where he's found opportunities to be scarce.
Despite those facts, the Lakers will hang on to Gasol for now because there's no one better out there in terms of pure basketball skill. It's still worth it to wait until all of the pieces are in place, and the team has more time to digest the new system before they part ways with the man who helped the franchise win two of their 16 titles.