This year, the most shocking development of the NBA season has been the poor performance of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers added Dwight Howard, arguably the league’s best center, and two-time MVP, Steve Nash to facilitate the offense. These two coveted players were brought in to aid Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in their chase for their third ring in the Kobe/Pau era.
To everyone’s surprise, this season has gone awry quickly for the Lakers.
Only five games into the season, the Lakers quickly fired their head coach Mike Brown and brought in Mike D’Antoni, former coach of Nash, instead of former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Despite the coaching change, the Lakers have continued to underperform and are playing well below their talent level. It is panic mode in Los Angeles, and they must find a way to salvage their season.
The only way LA could move players and reshape their team quickly is through a trade, and their most tradable asset is the struggling big man, Pau Gasol. The 32-year old Spaniard is clearly not cut out for D’Antoni’s run and gun offense, and a change of scenery is necessary for the seven-footer to find the success he had just a few years ago when he first arrived in Los Angeles.
Many have speculated on where Gasol should be moved to, and the team that will produce the best trade is the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are on the cusp of becoming a postseason regular and have several tradable assets, namely Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Both are rumored to be on the trading block to make way for up and coming youngsters Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. The Jazz are only lacking a veteran leader with championship experience while the Lakers are in need of a young forward who can play inside and out.
Enter Pau Gasol in Utah, and Paul Millsap in Los Angeles and each team wins this trade.
Using the ESPN Trade Machine, the deal would include Utah and Los Angeles and also Charlotte so that would also relieve the Jazz of Al Jefferson, making more room for Favors and Kanter to gain experience.
The Jazz receive: Pau Gasol, and Ben Gordon
This trade gives the Jazz exactly what they need—a proven leader who can carry this team through the postseason for the next several years and help develop Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors into stars by the time Gasol’s career is on its final legs. The Jazz receive Ben Gordon, as well, a sharp shooting role player who came in and hit big shots for the Chicago Bulls just a few years ago and take the place of Gordon Hayward in Salt Lake City.
The Lakers receive: Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward, and Reggie Williams
The Lakers finally get rid of the soap opera that is Pau Gasol and get much younger by adding swing forward Paul Millsap. Millsap not only has been shooting 47 percent from the field this season, but also 45 percent from beyond the arc. With a power forward who can stretch the floor, Dwight Howard will find himself with much more room to move around in the paint. The trade also brings Gordon Hayward to LA, who would develop behind Kobe Bryant, one of the best players to learn by. Reggie Williams’ reason to be brought to the Lakers is due to his expiring contract that is worth 2.6 million that will give the Lakers cap flexibility this offseason.
The Bobcats receive: Al Jefferson and Jodie Meeks
The Bobcats may be the true winners of deal, giving up two role players and obtaining Al Jefferson, who has a career average of 16 points and 9 rebounds a game, and also a 15 million dollar expiring contract. With this contract, Jefferson could resign with the club or leave and give the Bobcats a lot of money to spend in the offseason. Jefferson would continue to lead this club up into league relevance along with Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In addition, Jodie Meeks, a third-year pro, is still learning his identity in the league, but he could be a volume scorer off the bench on this team and have a role similar to Ben Gordon’s now.
With this deal, Utah becomes a solidified playoff team, the Lakers will put themselves back in contention for a finals run despite their poor start, and the Bobcats will continue to build themselves a roster that can contend a couple of years from now.
This trade would change the landscape of the league, but is completely necessary for each team to get where they want to both in the short term and the long term.