The struggles of the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers have been well documented, and with Pau Gasol averaging career low numbers across the board, it’s time to wonder out loud what the front office is thinking of doing with their seven foot Spaniard. Are there really any good trades out there for someone that makes 19 million this year? There are a few, but you can be the judge if any of these are even remotely an option. And just to make sure these aren’t any pie in the sky requests, I utilized ESPN’s Trade Machine to make sure they work via the cap and all that jazz (but don’t worry, Utah is not a trading partner).
Rolling The Dice: Pau Gasol for Amar’e Stoudemire
There are a few straight up trades that could be had for the Lakers due to the sizeable amount of Gasol’s salary this year, but few other than this one, make sense for both teams. (For example, you could trade Pau Gasol for Rudy Gay straight up, but if you’re Memphis, you’re automatically saying no to that one.) Though a casual Laker fan would be yelling “No way!!” to this trade, Pau Gasol for Amar’e Stoudemire should be considered a real possibility for various reasons. Mike D’Antoni is obviously the man at the helm for the Lakers and has more than a familiarity with Stoudemire. Stoudemire of course has the pick and roll chemistry with Steve Nash, while Pau Gasol… is not receiving any minutes during crunch time and could remain in D’Antoni’s doghouse. Bummer. There are also a few advantages for the Knicks in receiving Gasol. By moving him to New York, the Knicks pair Gasol with Tyson Chandler in the frontcourt, while solving the dilemma of what to do when Stoudemire is tired of coming off the bench and wants to start, despite his obvious redundancies when Carmelo Anthony is paired alongside him. N.B. This is an obvious risk for the Lakers, as no one really knows how Stoudemire’s knees will hold up, and also it gives the media the impression that the Lakers are trying to rebuild the seven seconds or less offense with parts that are falling apart, or past their prime. But with the Lakers still owing Mike Brown 11 million under his old contract, in addition to having D’Antoni for another 3 years, and Steve Nash for another three as well, you could possibly see them rolling the dice on this trade. But most likely, this never happens.
Thinking Outside of the Box: Pau Gasol for Charlie Villanueva, Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye
If there’s anything that the Detroit Pistons have, it’s problems. (Just kidding.) It’s a glut of players that can play either small forward or power forward. Interestingly enough, the Lakers are looking for that guy that can play a stretch four, but also be quick enough to guard small forwards if need be. In this case, the Lakers would be trading Pau Gasol for Charlie Villanueva, Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye, then hoping that the sum of their parts creates one great player. There are multiple advantages here for the Lakers. Prince has championship experience and could be revitalized by the move. Villanueva is the stretch four D’Antoni could be looking for, as he’s shot 17 of 28 from the three point line these last five games. Daye is one of those players that have never really materialized for various reasons in Detroit, but could benefit by going up against a guy like Kobe Bryant everyday.. The Pistons meanwhile, get rid of some of the angst Prince has been causing in the locker room these past few years, get Gasol to pair with Greg Monroe, while still holding on to a smaller backcourt of Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight, and letting Corey Maggette take the full time small forward position and freeing up more minutes for Kyle Singler. This one will be a tough pill to swallow for the Lakers though, as you’re not getting back any names that pop out at you in the headlines.
Filling in a few holes: Pau Gasol for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor
Hear me out on this one, because this doesn’t look as bad as it does on paper. The Lakers would receive Trevor Ariza, a player who at his very least, is a salvageable one-on-one defender at the small forward, and someone who should (emphasis on the word should), improve because of the various open looks he would receive from Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. Metta World Peace then moves to the four position (a spot he’s been playing often in D’Antoni’s offense anyways), and Emeka plays the back up centre when Dwight sits. Okafor and Ariza haven’t quite worked out for Washington the way the club had hoped, and having the opportunity to unload their contracts, while bringing in a professional like Gasol to help bring along their locker room, is an opportunity that the Wizards would not pass up.
Assessing the Competition: Carlos Boozer, Vladamir Radmanovic and Kirk Hinrich for Pau Gasol
In a reverse situation, maybe the Chicago Bulls realize how far they can get (third round exit) with Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose, and decide to roll the dice on Pau Gasol. They offer Boozer, Radmanovic, and Hinrich to the Lakers for Pau Gasol, giving the Lakers a stretch four off the bench (like, deep off the bench) in Radmanovic, a backup guard with Hinrich, and a player who is essentially Gasol right now (Boozer), but with a year longer on his contract and who has more of a tendency to space the floor and take long jumpers. The Bulls get back Gasol who is a veteran leader, has proven to be more reliable than Boozer over the course of his career, and a change of scenery in a city that would appreciate his talents, even with Derrick Rose currently out. This trade however, may be more in favour of the Bulls, as it would allow them to battle the Knicks frontcourt of Chandler and Stoudemire for years to come, while arming them at two strong positions-guard and centre-which the Miami Heat are weakest at. Not to mention it would allow them to field the most formidable frontcourt in the East with Noah and Gasol. Mitch Kupchak has probably already fielded this call however, and scoffed at it.
The Everybody Wins Trade: Lakers-Hornets-Raptors
Ok, fine. I’m from Toronto so maybe I am biased on this one, but take a look at it and you be the judge. It can be argued that the Hornets may actually be losing on this trade, but I still think they come out on the winning end. In the proposed three team deal, the Hornets would receive Andrea Bargnani and Ed Davis from the Raptors, the Lakers would receive Linus Kleiza from the Raptors and Ryan Anderson from the Hornets, and the Raptors would receive Pau Gasol. For the Hornets, they receive Bargnani in hopes that a change of scenery revitalizes his career, pairing two number one picks together (Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Davis) while keeping Eric Gordon and guards Austin Rivers and Grevis Vasquez. They also receive Ed Davis, giving them more inside presence off the bench, someone who has shown flashes of potential these last few games with Toronto. For the Lakers, they accept the unloading of the Raptors’ albatross Kleiza contract while utilizing him as a stretch four off the bench, and getting a proven stretch four in Ryan Anderson. Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard is a pairing that has already been proven to pay dividends in Orlando, and with the adjoining pieces could up the chemistry once again in La La Land. The Raptors for their part, come away with Gasol, free up some contract room without using their amnesty clause on Kleiza, and get rid of Bargnani who they were probably looking to shop anyways. The current payoff for this season is not losing Calderon’s leadership that he has shown in their recent surge, while pairing him his Spanish teammate. The Raptors finally get a championship presence within their locker room, allowing some of their younger players to grow, while landing a marquee name. Everybody wins? Hope so.