It’s really interesting to watch the evolution of a player like Pau Gasol, not only from the public’s consciousness perspective, but from that nebulous aspect of basketball which metrics can’t define. Our ability to define efficiency and production is better than ever and shouldn’t be disregarded when considering Gasol’s value. But there is another part of it, which is that he’s simply not making the Lakers great this year. There are a number of reasons for the Lakers’ perceived vulnerabilities, and it’s not that they are not a very good team. They are. Exceptional. But not great. And while the problems with L.A. go far beyond Gasol, in the past, his play has masked much of that next to Kobe Bryant. That hasn’t been the case this year.
Which is why the trade rumors will not cease even after the drama of two weeks ago. From SI.com:
Meanwhile, the future of Lakers forward Pau Gasol hasn’t been made any more clear after Kobe Bryant’s Feb. 19 mandate for clarity from management. Sources say Minnesota general manager David Kahn is still attempting to land Gasol, and that push is likely to continue all the way until the deadline. Houston general manager Daryl Morey remains equally enamored with the player he thought he landed in the vetoed three-team deal with the Lakers and New Orleans on Dec. 8, but the Rockets’ love of point guard Kyle Lowry (who the Lakers would also love) has likely ended any possibilities there.
The Wolves are red hot right now after annihilating the Blazers offensively Saturday night. They have Nikolai Pekovic and Kevin Love as suddenly one of the toughest frontcourts in the NBA. They have the glorious star of Ricky Rubio shining palely through the night. and they have superb coaching from Rick Adelman. Would adding Pau Gasol be adding a wonderful offensive player? Absolutely. But it takes away shot from Kevin Love and complicates your frontcourt defense. Adelman would make it work, but does it make the Wolves necessarily better given their future flexibility?
Then there’s the Rockets, who continue to chase the dream that died when the Chris Paul trade was vetoed. On the one hand, it makes sense, Daryl Morey has consistently pursued a star and Gasol is an available star. But Gasol is a star for two, maybe three more years, and then the dropoff may become severe. Even if the Rockets pull a deal to acquire another star to go with Gasol, is there any guarantee his production will remain the same outside of the warm and comfy confines of L.A., and can they assemble a championship team before the 31-year-old’s skills begin to diminish?
This isn’t really about Gasol. He’s a fine player and some nights can be the second best player on the floor. But he’s turned into an available star commodity so his value is going to be raised above what it might actually may be, which makes it doubly difficult. The trading for team may be getting a player who isn’t worth what they paid, and the Lakers may be stuck having to negotiate a price above what Gasol is actually worth.