Can you have a Lakers season where a chunk of their fans don’t want to trade Pau Gasol?
It hasn’t happened yet, but for the first time since Gasol came to Los Angeles from Memphis and was central to them winning two NBA titles, there may be some validity to the talk.
Gasol is struggling to find his niche in Mike D’Antoni’s offense — he had 13 points on seven shot attempts in the win over Dallas, but had six and eight points in the two losses before that. He was benched in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Grizzlies. Gasol wants more touches in the post. D’Antoni’s offense is not really designed for two big men (it isn’t really designed for one traditional post player) and Gasol feels like the odd man out.
That has led some around the league to think Gasol will go on the market, but it hasn’t happened yet reports the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers aren’t actively looking to trade Gasol right now, The Times has learned, because they want to see what happens when Nash returns from a small fracture in his leg.
After that, there are two important dates: Dec. 15 is when teams can deal players they signed during the off-season, opening up about 20% more of the NBA’s player pool; and Feb. 21, the league’s trade deadline.
Gasol’s passing skills, midrange jump shots and fluid moves in the post made him a natural fit in Phil Jackson’s triangle. While some of the less savvy Lakers fans decided Gasol was soft and wouldn’t let the label go (even after he outplayed Dwight Howard in the post in the 2010 NBA finals) the team saw his value.
But in the current Lakers offense, what is valued more is outside shooting and the Lakers don’t have it. Obviously the Lakers are not going to trade Kobe Bryant (too valuable to the franchise and too good a player), Steve Nash isn’t going anywhere because he is the lynchpin to the D’Antoni offense, and Dwight Howard is the future (if the Lakers can re-sign him as expected).
Which makes Gasol ripe for trade speculation. And there would be a market for him, there just are not other skilled big men like him around.
But he is making $19 million this season and $19.3 million next season — there are not a lot of teams willing to take that on, and none really willing to give equal value back. The Lakers may take less value if it includes outside shooters, but there likely will have to be a bad contract in there to balance it out.
It’s not happening yet. It may not be happening for a while (we don’t even have a return date for Nash to the Lakers yet), but know the Gasol trade speculation and rumors will be back with a vengeance this season.