Is a pledge to Steve Nash the only thing keeping the Los Angeles Lakers from trading Pau Gasol? Probably not. There are likely several things keeping them from doing it. But according to recent reports, Nash's desire to play with the big Spaniard is a big reason why Mitch Kupchak and the rest of team brass are hesitant to hastily pull the trigger on a big deal right now.
Gasol’s recent struggles are a matter of public record. He is averaging career lows in points and field goal percentage. Those career lows hit rock bottom when Mike D’Antoni hobbled into town. He is battling tendinitis. His pride took a hit when D’Antoni benched him in the fourth quarters of back-to-back games. His struggles are beginning to become a distraction for the whole team.
Again, none of this is a secret. What was unknown until a few days ago, though, is the reason why Los Angeles has been keeping him around despite all of that stuff. Most folks just chalked it up to the organization being unable to find a suitable trade partner. Not so, apparently. The reason Gasol hasn’t been moved is because the Lakers promised Nash that Gasol wouldn’t be traded when they were courting him earlier this summer.
Here is what Ric Bucher wrote on his Twitter account:
Source: Ignore any and all trade talk about Pau Gasol because the Lakers landed Steve Nash by promising him he would get to play with Gasol. Nash made it a prerequisite for passing on offers from Toronto and the Knicks that Pau would be around, the source said. Such prerequisites from an incoming star aren't that unusual -- Chris Paul made similar personnel demands as part of his agreement to be dealt to the Clippers. (In Paul's case, he wanted assurance that LAC would do whatever was necessary to retain restricted FA DeAndre Jordan.)
Conceivably, once Nash gets back and actually plays with Gasol, the Lakers could continue to struggle and Nash re-thinks his position. But as of right now, one of the enticements that brought Nash to LA was the big Spaniard and the organization would have much bigger problems than they already have if they backtracked on their promise to keep Gasol in the fold.
So, is that true? Probably. It certainly sounds legitimate. Of course, we don’t know the context of that promise. Maybe Nash was promised that the Lakers wouldn’t simply drop Gasol in a salary dump. If they did it in a way that would better the team, though, would Nash really have a problem with that?
If the Lakers’ 38-year-old point guard saw that there was a better talent out there to play alongside than Gasol, do you really think he’d hold the organization to some sales pitch they made during the summer?
Nash wants to win. If keeping Gasol ensures that, then he wants the Lakers to keep Gasol. If getting rid of Gasol ensures that, Nash will be perfectly fine with that, too.
(Kudos Ric Bucher)