While the idea of former teammates Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol being traded for each other had some “what a quirky coincidence” fun about it, the odds of making a deal really work for both sides always was a tough sell.
The major issue, sources said, involves the Lakers’ desire to get an additional asset from the Cavs beyond Bynum’s team-friendly contract, which could save the Lakers more than $20 million in salary and luxury taxes. The Lakers are interested in also getting a young prospect or first-round draft pick as part of the deal. The Cavs have been reluctant to part with either.
For the Cavaliers, the logic in getting Gasol is to make a playoff push — Cleveland averages just 36.7 points in the paint per game, third worst in the NBA. Gasol would help change that. (So would Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters finishing their drives at the rim rather than settling for a pull-up jumper, but that’s another discussion.)
For the Lakers, making this trade then waiving Bynum would be a cash saving move and would be essentially throwing in the towel on this season and conceding they want to be in the lottery — for Lakers management that would be a hard step to take. It might be the right one, but it flies in the tradition of the Lakers and current ownership (post Jerry Buss) is sensitive to the idea this is not a franchise that tanks.
That said the Lakers need to consider this, and if not the Bynum move another salary dump. Sorry, but this season is lost. Simply put, if they make this move and get out of the tax this season and them next season not go over the Lakers could avoid the new “repeater tax” for a few years. This would make it easier and less expensive to be aggressive on free agents the next couple seasons. Plus they would get a lottery player (likely not top 3 but more likely 10-12) to add to that mix.
Still, that is a change from how the Lakers do business. If they are going to take that step they will want something else they can sell fans (and themselves) besides that salary dump.