The NBA regular season is just around the corner, which means that Pau Gasol trade rumors are about to kick into full gear. Ever since he helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight Finals appearances and two championships, fans and critics alike have been salivating over the prospect of him putting on a new uniform. The infatuation with trading him has gotten really bizarre, actually.
Over the past few years, there has been exactly one Gasol trade that made sense: the one that was actually made. That deal would have resulted in Chris Paul playing for the Lakers and Gasol on the Rockets. That’s it. Despite all the rumors that came before and after that vetoed deal, and regardless of what anyone says, nothing else has ever come close to materializing.
This year Gasol is scheduled to make $19.2 million. Given the fact that he is coming off the worst, most injured-plagued season of his career, and taking into account that the Lakers aren’t expected to contend for a title, rumors are once again being floated that he is being dangled as trade bait. As reported by Sam Amico of Fox Sports:
One Eastern Conference executive told FOX Sports Ohio he’s heard from the Lakers recently, and word around the league is they may try to make a "substantial" trade before the regular season. Apparently, forward Pau Gasol remains far from untouchable.
Many NBA talent-evaluators feel as if Steve Nash is no longer capable of playing at a high level for more than 15-20 minutes game. The Lakers, it is believed, are on the lookout for a younger point guard who's a more potent scorer. But as everyone who deals in the trade market will tell you, that won't be so easy to obtain.
There are several problems with this rumor. First of all, those two ideas contradict each other. The Lakers can’t be looking to make a ‘substantial’ deal while simultaneously hunting for a young point guard to take pressure off Nash. There are no superstar point guards out there who teams are willing to trade. The best the Lakers would be able to do is a mediocre point guard a la Ramon Sessions two years ago, and picks/cap relief. That wouldn’t be a ‘substantial’ deal.
The other problem is that the Lakers need Gasol. Unless management plans to go into full on tank mode, which doesn’t make sense with Nash still on the roster playing ’15-20 minutes per game' for the next two years, trading Gasol with Kobe Bryant’s status still is stupid. And let’s assume Bryant does come back, how will Lakers brass explain to him why they dealt away their most skilled big man for nothing when he has, at most, two years of basketball left him?
Maybe L.A. will move Gasol at some point this year, but it definitely won’t be before the season starts, and it definitely won’t be until they see that this year is headed for complete disaster.