Rumor of a potential trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets has quietly begun to pick up steam as of late and among the names being tossed around are Lakers big man Pau Gasol and Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry. LA is in desperate need of a younger scoring point guard which makes the deal for Lowry a must.
Lowry is having a career-year averaging 14.7 points and 7.6 assists per game making him the team’s leader in assists and third-leading scorer. In LA, Derek Fisher and Steve Blake are averaging a combined total of 12.3 points and 6.4 assists per game which just goes to prove that Lowry alone is a much needed upgrade. Offensively, Lowry can provide the Lakers with another scoring presence in the backcourt alongside Kobe Bryant. Lowry could also be of value coming off the bench and leading the second rotation when Bryant and the rest of the starters are off the court. Either way, Lowry gives the Lakers a versatile guard on offense capable of scoring and distributing the basketball. The current role of Fisher and Blake on this team is to get the ball to the leading scorers and prevent turnovers. The role of Lowry would be to not only do that too, but drive the ball inside and hit shots from the perimeter while hopefully drawing attention off of Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
In terms of his defense, Lowry is a pesky defender who can keep up with some of the league’s quicker guards. His 49 steals rank fourth in the NBA this season and, once again, outweighs the combined total of 35 by Fisher and Blake. To be quite frank, Fisher and Blake haven’t been very productive, and the fact that Lowry’s stats alone compensate for more than their combined totals tells us the Lakers need help at point guard. Currently, Fisher and Blake have the difficult task of simply staying in front of the opposing team’s point guard and not allowing him to get inside or hit open jump shots. Lowry’s assignment on defense would be the same but with the added challenge of creating turnovers and forcing opponents to take low percentage shots.
Perhaps the most important reason the Lakers need Lowry is for his age. Pumping new life into an aging position on the team is crucial considering so many teams possess such young skilled point guards. Let’s face it, at 37-years-old Fisher just isn’t able to keep up with a Derrick Rose or a Russell Westbrook anymore. Blake hasn’t fared any better at 31 years old trying to defend a rejuvenated Chris Paul. Lowry is only 25 years of age and more than willing to run with the NBA’s elite guards. Having Lowry for even just a year gives the Lakers a better chance at making the playoffs and contending with younger teams. In the Western Conference alone the Lakers are facing a handful of young point guards in: Westbrook, Paul, Ty Lawson and Tyreke Evans just to name a few. Keeping players like these from dropping double-digits every night is no easy task and that’s in just one conference.
Finally, sending Gasol off to Houston would mean sending off his $57 million contract as well. Gasol is 31 years old right now and scheduled to make nearly $38.3 million over the course of the next two seasons, so keeping him may be more of a burden in the long run. Lowry’s contract is considerably less and what’s even more intriguing is the fact that he’s only scheduled to make an estimated $11.9 million over the next two seasons. From a financial perspective this deal would help the team free up cap space taken up by an aging player. Lowry isn’t expected to come alone though, as the Rockets are hoping to unload Luis Scola and his $39.2 million contract upon the Lakers as well. Scola won’t replace Gasol’s numbers on offense entirely, but his 15.3 points per game average comes pretty close to Gasol’s 16.7 points. Scola is no seven-footer either, but he’s a big body that can defend in the low post.
In a sense, the Lakers are able to add youth to the point guard position and still retain a reasonably good big man to complement Bynum. It’s obvious the Lakers want to win now and while Gasol is a big contributor to this team it may be time to find production elsewhere. Splitting time with Gasol hasn’t allowed Bynum to blossom into the low post presence he’s capable of being either. Change is eminent in LA, but big name trades for a Dwight Howard or a Rajon Rondo aren’t the best suited options. The Lakers want to add firepower but keep costs low, which is something general manager Mitch Kupchak excels in.