For Some Reason, the Lakers Seem Intent On Keeping Pau Gasol

 

The Lakers certainly have been a lightning rod team of sorts for most of their history, but more so in this past offseason than at any other time in recent memory. Obviously, being dragged into the Dwight Howard saga–and eventually trading for the center– along with trading for Steve Nash and firing head coach Mike Brown after just five games are just some of the more prevalent headlines surrounding Los Angeles so far in 2012. And that's not even taking into account the ridiculously poor start the NBA's next "dream team" has gotten off, situating them in just 3rd place in the Pacific Division, behind the in-state rival Warriors and Clippers.

As naturally comes with the territory when a super-hyped team plays well below expectations throughout the (almost) 1st quarter of the whole season, there has been significant gossip, media coverage, speculation, etc surrounding LA, even more so than in normal seasons. Granted, 9-10 isn't a "sky is falling" record, but it certainly isn't nearly where management wants it to be; a fact that definitely hasn't stopped constant swirl of trade rumors around the Lakers to occur. As present-day media always tends to do, mostly absurd trade scenario, reports, and speculations have continually been reported with regards to the Lakers. However, one of these such rumors may have more plausability and potential to go down than all the others.

That would the report that there are a bunch of teams around the NBA that are seriously trying to pry Pau Gasol away from Los Angeles and Mike D'Antoni. From a general perspective, moving Gasol for a bunch of younger pieces/draft picks/cap relief would make sense for the Lakers as he and Howard are essentially filling the exact same role on the team. Gasol is more of a finesse big man, hitting more mid-range jumpers and netting more assists than his counterpart, formerly of the Magic. Dwight focuses on defense and rebounding and the easy points that can result from offensive rebounding. Still, even with their divergent skill sets and fortes, Pau and Dwight aren't the best fit with LA and have clearly suffered from the haphazard and rag-tag way their team was put together over the summer

With all of this said, and the Gasol-Howard frontcourt tandem clearly not working out well at all, why wouldn't the Lakers just deal Pau to a team like the Timberwolves or Raptors? The answer to that query doesn't seem to be clear at all, as the packages those teams have set forward (Nikola Pekovic, Derrick Williams and assorted picks for Minnesota; Andrea Bargnani, Linas Kleiza, and Jose Calderon for Toronto) look to suit the Lakers' weaknesses pretty well.

Pekovic is a true grinder who would be a beastly complement on the interior to Howard while Williams is a swing-man lottery-pick who has definite talent, but has yet to show it in the NBA so far in his career. As for the Raptors' offer, Bargnani and Kleiza are forwards who can stretch the floor with the best of them due to their solid long-range shooting capabilities. Outside of Kobe, Jodie Meeks, and maybe Metta World Peace, LA doesn't have any real spot-up three-point shooters with any real consistency. Kleiza and Bargnani would solve that issue fairly easily, giving the Lakers' offense a new dimension for opponents to worry and game plan about, diverting their attention from players like Kobe, Dwight, and Steve Nash. In that trade situation, Calderon, an aging, yet still decent point guard, would probably serve as a throw-in, as his contract expires after this season. As Toronto would be able to get his hefty contract worth off their hands, and as Los Angeles would probably lose him this summer in free agency, the move would be mutually beneficial.

The Lakers' staunch refusal to deal Gasol and rebuffal of any offer made by another team is quite baffling, as getting rid of his contract in exchange for a younger, cheaper player with close to his talent would appear to be the optimal move. Granted, this season is only 19 games in the books and there is more than enough time to see if Dwight and Pau really can successfully mesh with each other on the court. The only drawback to that plan is that the Lakers' window of championship contention is thinning with every game Kobe Bryant plays so they have to make the best move as soon as possible or risk a potential title. Apparently, most front offices around the NBA are in agreement that trading Gasol would be poor management by the Lakers' front office. The thing is that the Lakers' front office hasn't even realized that yet.

About Josh Burton

I'm a New York native who has been a Nets season ticket holder, in both New Jersey and now Brooklyn, for his entire life. Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism) '18

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