|Gasol hasn't played since November 22nd|
The Memphis Grizzlies are 17-19 this season and are currently sitting in 10th place in the competitive Western Conference, just outside of the playoff picture. That is a far cry from the Grizzlies team that finished fifth in the West in the 2012-13 and made it to the Conference Finals before being swept by the Spurs in four games.
Injuries, such as Gasol's (knee) and Quincy Pondexter's season-ending foot fracture, in addition to a new coach in Dave Joerger and a trade — the acquisition of Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless — have all contributed to a Memphis squad that has not been able to create, and sustain, much chemistry and on-court success so far. Like with the Brooklyn Nets, who have faced many of the same problems, a constantly-rotating crop of healthy players is never conducive to winning.
Still, though, this team is far from a cellar-dweller. It certainly has the players to be a competitive force in the tough West, but just needs some continuity.
It will get that when Gasol returns "imminently" from the left knee injury that has made him miss 23 games already. According to the linked report from The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal, Gasol could possibly suit up for the Grizzlies' home game against the Kings on Friday.
From Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: "It’s been hard for me to be patient and stay in the day-to-day. Sometimes when you look down the road and you still have six weeks to go, you get a little anxious and you want to do more and more and more,” Gasol said. “The knee felt fine. It feels great actually. We never did anything where I said ‘Well, it hurts.’ So the timing has been really good.”
This is obviously good news for the Grizzlies.
Gasol's return comes just in time for this team to get back into the Western Conference Playoff race. Gasol's presence should make Memphis' defense all the tougher to crack and provide another offensive anchor. Memphis could be getting set to make their run once Gasol gets integrated back into the lineup.