Pau Gasol has been one of the most talked about trade chips in the league since his inclusion in the vetoed Chris Paul trade in December. As the trade deadline approaches, Gasol is a likely candidate to be moved by the Lakers.
With Mark Stein of ESPN.com reporting that the Lakers made an offer to acquire Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams in exchange for their prized power forward, one can only imagine how great of a move that would be for Los Angeles.
However, New Jersey is reluctant to move their franchise player. The Nets turned down the initial Gasol offer in December and seek to pair Williams with another superstar, preferably Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
However, now that that Howard has signed off on his early termination option as reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel via Twitter, the Nets might consider dealing Williams, who can opt out of his contract and enter free agency June 1.
The trade would work flawlessly, Gasol and Williams make similar money and can be moved without the addition of other players, though the Nets might ask for additional players if they are to move Williams. Ron Artest is a likely candidate to be included in a deal, addressing the Nets desperate need for a swingman.
Williams would address the Lakers’ primary roster need, help in the backcourt, and would give the team the offensive catalyst they have so desperately wanted all season. Williams is a superb passer, having a career average of 9.1 assists per game. His ability to drive the lane with his killer cross-over and dexterity to dish the ball when in trouble makes him an excellent fit for Lakers head coach Mike Brown’s offense.
Williams’ shooting ability would certainly take pressure off of Bryant while driving the lane, as the star shooting guard is consistently subjected to double teams while approaching the paint. Both Williams and Bryant serve as ideal backcourt compliments to each other and would be one of the most revered combinations in the league.
In fact, pairing another superstar with Bynum and Bryant would put the Lakers in the conversation with Miami as far as roster talent goes. Los Angeles would likely find themselves returning as a perennial NBA Finals threat.
Retaining Williams might be problematic for the Lakers however. They’re deep into the luxury tax and Williams will almost certainly require a max money contract. Should Williams elect to opt out, Los Angeles would likely lose the point guard.
Still, if he is available, Williams would most certainly return the Lakers to title contention. The Lakers have sought out a point guard all season and Williams is likely the best available on the market. If New Jersey is to pull the trigger sending Williams to LA, we might see one of the most dynamic backcourt duos in the history of the league with Williams and Bryant.