The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly actively seeking to trade Pau Gasol before the start of next season.
Can they realistically send him back to the Memphis Grizzlies?
When L.A. flamed out in embarrassing fashion to the Oklahoma City Thunder this year, that latest disappointment more or less cemented the fact that they would need to make big changes over the summer. Because the Lakers are very constrained as far as what they can do in free agency, the only real way to improve the squad would be via trade.
Last year, prior to the start of the 2012 season, Mitch Kupchak set up what might have been one of the most brilliant NBA transactions in recent memory. Had the deal he arranged between the Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets gone through, not only would the Lakers have attained Chris Paul while only losing Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, they would have also freed up nearly enough money to then swing a deal for Dwight Howard.
Of course, we all know what wound up happening; commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal and, in doing so, basically killed L.A.’s year. Worst. Guy. Ever. But that's neither here nor there.
Kupchak, by all accounts, hasn't softened on trading Gasol. Even though Paul is no longer out there to be had, Lakers brass seems adamant in their desire to move the team’s most talented big. How adamant? Well, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
The Lakers are committed to moving Pau Gasol — the fall guy for their second-round ouster against the Thunder and previous playoff failures — even if they have to take back less talent. As long as Heisley retains the Grizzlies, Memphis will always have interest. Heisley has always wanted to bring Gasol back, pairing him with his brother, Marc.
So, how realistic is a potential deal between the Lakers and Grizzlies for Gasol’s services? Not very.
For one thing, Memphis doesn't want Gasol. The folks down there have quietly put together one of the fiercest young units in the West, and the last thing that roster needs is an aging, somewhat overpaid power forward that couldn't get out of the first round with their team when he was in his prime. Plus, Heisley’s supposed desire to bring him in is sort of irrelevant if the team ultimately ends up getting sold.
Meanwhile, on the Lakers side of things – there is no way they’ll just give Gasol away. Not to the Grizzlies, not to anyone. If Kupchak were to do that, Kobe would kill him with his bare hands. L.A. is admittedly in money-saving mode right now, but it’s also in win-now mode. Gasol will probably get moved, but it will be for something at least moderately decent.
Of course, the best case scenario for all involved would still be the Lakers somehow working out a deal that would land Andrew Bynum with the Brooklyn Nets and Deron Williams with the Lakers. A Kobe-Pau-Williams Big 3 would kill in the West for the next couple of years.
But that’s a longshot. You know, because it makes too much sense.
(Kudos N.Y. Daily News)