The popular opinion heading into this summer has been that there is no way the Los Angeles Lakers keep both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Well, shockingly enough, the popular opinion might just be wrong.
This past regular season, Gasol averaged a career low 17.4 points per game on just over 50 percent shooting. In the playoffs he averaged a similarly unimpressive career low 12.5 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting. Seeing as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak had already wanted to trade him before the year even began (you’ll recall, they set up a deal for Chris Paul that was eventually killed by David Stern), naturally, everyone just sort of figured that Gasol was a goner.
What are the Lakers starting the season with Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol all in Lakers uniforms?
"Very good," says Buss.
So you don't agree with those who say the Lakers must turn Gasol into two or three players via a trade?
"No," he says. "I think changes are going to be made moving Pau lower to the basket. We can improve that way with a change in coaching strategy rather than a change in personnel."
Keeping Gasol is an option? Interesting. But if you keep Gasol, how can you bring in any other talent? The team’s precarious cap situation prevents it from being able to make moves through free agency; trades is the only way that the Lakers can improve themselves.
Does this latest proclamation by the heir apparent mean that L.A. is staying pat and making no moves whatsoever? Not exactly. Apparently, Buss isn’t going to completely sit on his hands this summer. Via that same piece:
"We will try to sign Sessions when the rules allow beginning in July," he says. "And improve the bench."
While the prospect of not bringing in a superstar and not peddling Gasol to whoever will take him may sound like a bad idea to some, it’s actually the second best thing we’ve heard so far. (The first, obviously, is our proposed trade in which we send Bynum to the Nets for Deron Williams.) If you can’t get fair value back for the Big Spaniard, why not just keep him? Why not try for another title with two of the four best post players in the league playing together?
Sure, there are some financial concerns -- Gasol’s salary is off the charts -- and yes, it might be tough to for L.A. to add bench players given the team’s limited spending resources; but, how would any of those problems be lessened in a swap where you give away Gasol for pennies on the dollar?
The Lakers shouldn’t be afraid to pull the trigger on a big move. No one is disputing that. But they also shouldn’t be afraid to stay pat – especially since that may ultimately end up being the smartest option available.
(Kudos Los Angeles Times)