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Los Angeles Lakers: Why Pau Gasol Will Be Traded in the Offseason

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Los Angeles Lakers: Why Pau Gasol Will Be Traded in the Offseason
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Once again, the Los Angeles Lakers were swiftly dealt with in the second round of the playoffs. An organization routinely synonymous with success has been disappointing the past two seasons, to say the least.

A core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum looks to be coming to an end, as the continual early exit from the postseason is unacceptable. Matching stories from both dismissals is the lack of intensity from Gasol. He is no doubt one of the more skilled big men in the NBA today, but it seems his time in L.A. is over.

After winning two championships with the Lakers, Gasol has degenerated in his postseason production. Here are his statistics from the last four years in the playoffs:

Gasol

PTS

FGM

FGA

FG%

REB

’08-‘09

18.3

7.0

12.0

.580

10.9

’09-‘10

19.6

7.2

13.3

.539

11.1

’10-‘11

13.1

4.7

11.2

.420

7.8

’11-‘12

12.4

5.2

11.7

.442

8.9

His scoring and rebounding are both lower than his averages in recent years. Gasol has repeatedly been "called out" by Kobe Bryant, most recently after their Game 4 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com cites Bryant as saying, "Pau's got to be more assertive. He's the guy that they're leaving. When he catches the ball, he's looking to pass. He's got to be aggressive. He's got to shoot the ball, drive the ball to the basket. He will be the next game."

As one of the top players in the league, it should be up to Bryant to get him more involved. If Gasol is looking to pass as he receives the ball, he is clearly not in the best position to score. Much like LeBron James, Gasol looks to make the best play possible rather than forcing the issue.

He is one of the premier post players the NBA has to offer, using his length to pull off hook shots and layups inside. Gasol also rebounds the ball well, averaging double-digits in that category for the last three seasons. Bryant and the coaching staff should have been striving to create post-up opportunities for their big man, but for the second straight postseason exit, failed to do so.

Gasol was a part of the trade involving Chris Paul that was vetoed at the beginning of the season. A combination of this and his struggles will result in the Lakers doing so again. As difficult as the idea of sending someone of his caliber away is, it is necessary for the Los Angeles organization to move forward.

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Once the team exercises the team option on Andrew Bynum’s contract, they will have approximately $79 million locked up in salaries. This makes improving the team difficult, as no financial decisions can be made. Trading Gasol to a team with cap space will allow the team to shed $19 million, placing them just over the $58 million limit. Other players could be added or dealt in separate trades to get the Lakers below the cap, thereby making them eligible to make a run at free agents.

Either way, a deal to Houston or Minnesota could be involved, as they were both potential destinations at the beginning of the season. Any other team that could take on Gasol's contract would obviously be interested in the four-time All-Star.

Regardless of the Lakers' trade partners, one outcome is clear: Gasol will begin the 2012-2013 season in a new uniform. 

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