After a fantastic first game of the season in which he put up 23 points and 13 rebounds, Pau Gasol’s production began to noticeably decline. Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers’ much maligned power forward is averaging 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The latter figure is down from last year, the former is a career low. Worse yet, for the first time since turning pro, Gasol is shooting less than 50 percent. His field goal percentage (43.4 percent) is lower than Kobe Bryant’s (51 percent).
Last year, the Lakers dangled Gasol out there as trade bait when he was averaging 17.4 points (on 50 percent shooting) and 10.4 rebounds. If they were willing to do that last year when his totals were substantially better than they are this year, you can imagine how hard brass is looking at available options this year.
There are two problems when it comes to possibly trading Gasol. The first is: he is still a very good player – and it’s hard to get fair value back for good players. The second (and perhaps most important one) is: he is owed more than $38 million over the next two seasons – not an amount teams are looking to pay for a 32-year-old averaging career lows.
Recently, the good folks over at HoopsWorld examined the most discussed potential destinations for Gasol. Those destinations? The Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.
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Here was their take on Houston:
Gasol has been linked to the Houston Rockets on several occasions, but Rockets sources were adamant that a Gasol-to-Houston deal was never just about Gasol it was about the other players they felt they could add around Gasol, those players have since moved on and so has Houston.
While the Rockets have obviously remade the team over the past year, they still lack a solid offensive interior presence. It’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t explore a possible deal for Gasol – he would add an element to the squad that it is clearly still missing. Unfortunately, Houston doesn’t have anything the Lakers want right now.
Here was HoopsWorld’s take on Boston:
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The Boston Celtics at one point or another have expressed interest in Gasol, but they wouldn’t offer much in return for him, so a deal to or through Boston is highly unlikely. The Celtics do have a surplus of perimeter scorers and that’s something the Lakers are looking for and the Celtics do lack size in the front court, but sources say there is almost no interest in a deal from Boston’s side, the economics don’t work.
This is a very intriguing idea. Frankly, if they could figure out a way to make the money work, bringing Gasol would probably benefit the Celtics more than the Lakers. Of all of the options that that have been mentioned thus far, a deal between Boston and L.A. is definitely the most sensible.
Finally, here was HoopsWorld’s take on New York:
Some have speculated about a Gasol-to-New-York deal for Amar’e Stoudemire, which both Knicks and Lakers sources have said is highly unlikely. Gasol might actually fit better in New York, but the Lakers are not interested in the Stoudemire contract, which is worse than the Gasol deal.
This idea has been whispered about ever since the Mike D’Antoni hiring, and its stupidity is as amazing today as it was the day it was first hatched. The Lakers have absolutely no use for an injury prone, overpaid, Gasol downgrade. Book it: this one has zero chance of happening.
A Gasol trade has appeared imminent for two years now, and yet it’s never actually gone down. Why? Because it’s very hard to move a player of his caliber and remain a championship contender. That being said, he doesn’t seem to fit into D’Antoni’s offense. At all. Prior to Saturday’s blowout victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Gasol shot under 40 percent for two consecutive games.
Gasol’s future with the Lakers -- and the team’s willingness to move him at a loss -- may depend on how he plays over the next few weeks.