The Los Angeles Lakers have won five out of their last six games. There are two ways to view that. On one hand, it’s undeniably great whenever you emerge from an outing victorious. When you do it five times in half a dozen tries, that is even better. On the other hand, four of those six teams boasted a below .500 winning percentage. Furthermore, the two victories that came against teams with a .500+ percentage both came at home.
Bottom line: Los Angeles is still 22-26 and a long ways away from making the postseason. Over the next two weeks this team will face the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers. It is conceivable that the Lakers will enter Feb. 20’s showdown against the Celtics having gone 1-5 in their last six.
All of which makes the likelihood of a trade between now and then all the more high.
By now everyone knows that there has been irreparable harm done to the relationship between Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni. Both will put on smiling faces until Dwight Howard returns from injury. Gasol will get some crumbs thrown his way (i.e. the Pistons game). But at the end of the day, there is no getting around this uncomfortable truth: Howard and Gasol can’t play together in D’Antoni’s system. One of those three needs to be removed from the equation.
Howard is L.A.’s star of the future. D’Antoni, for whatever reason, is Jim Buss’ preferred coach. And Gasol, well, he is the odd man out.
The question now is: what can the Lakers do with him at this point? According to USA Today, they could trade him to the Celtics. Per that report:
But don’t rule out Pau Gasol. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak knows how to execute a big deal, and the season-ending back injury to Celtics rookie forward Jared Sullinger makes the Boston an even more active in trade talks.
Who would L.A. get back in a proposed swap with Boston? That is left to speculation. You will recall, last week Marc Stein of ESPN passed along this mildly intriguing trade rumor:
So it's premature, to me, to throw Pierce's name up there with Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol on the list of high-profile names we need to monitor this trade season, even though we've heard more than one rival team speculate that a three-way deal where Pierce lands in Memphis, Gasol goes to Boston and Gay joins the Lakers makes "some sense." Sources say that the Celtics and Grizzlies have indeed held some exploratory trade talks since Gay hit the market.
Obviously neither Gay nor Memphis can be a part of any deal anymore, however, Stein’s bit of gossip does reaffirm that a Lakers-Celtics deal is feasible. It’s just a matter of getting a third team involved.
Who would that third team be? If there is one out there, we’ll hear about it soon enough.