After the Lakers were ousted from the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the common notion has become that either Gasol or Andrew Bynum are on their way out.
Bynum would bring more in return, but as HoopsWorld's Eric Pincus explains, Gasol is valuable in his own right:
Re: Pau Gasol. I've spoken to multiple nba executives and scouts - teams looking for someone like Pau is a not-over-the-hump almost playoff teams. Just having someone like Gasol, I've been told, can put a team that just can't break through to the next level. Naturally there are flaws in Gasol, you need a tough-guy rebounder next to him - he makes a ton of $ - but the Lakers will have queries. Not sure there is anywhere close to a CP3 return.
Let's take a deeper look at exactly what Gasol currently brings to the table, and what kind of value he can bring in a trade.
People are ready to throw Gasol under the bus, but he still managed to average 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season. The points—and 50.1 shooting percentage—were down from his career average, but he averaged the second most rebounds of his career.
Of course, those numbers plummeted to 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds during the playoffs, so that has everyone worried.
Nonetheless, Gasol is still producing at a high rate, and, as mentioned above, as long as he has another solid big man next to him, he'll continue to provide double-doubles on a regular basis.
Throw in the fact that Pau is both a very good passer for his size (final minute of Game 4 notwithstanding) and still blocks a shot-and-a-half per game, and you have a player who can contribute big time for a big team.
Gasol is only 31 years old, but he's been starting full time in the NBA ever since he was 21. If you add it all up, he's logged over 28,000 minutes.
Throw in four years with FC Barcelona, Basquet and even more time with Spain's national team, and he has a lot of mileage on those legs.
So, while yes, he is just 31, he's an "old" 31 by NBA standards.
Conversely, remember that during Gasol's four-and-a-half years with the Lakers, he's stayed almost completely healthy. So, while you know he'll start wearing down soon, you also know he's in very good health and will likely produce at a high level for at least another couple of years.
Essentially, he's a risk to take on, but a smart risk. That makes sense, right?
This is where Gasol's value takes a big-time hit.
If he were providing "good" production at an "average" age, it would be fine if he was making somewhere in the $10 million per year range.
But he's not. Gasol, in fact, is the seventh-highest paid player in the NBA. This year he made more than guys like Carmelo Anthony and A'mare Stoudemire, though not Rashard Lewis (oh Washington).
What's even worse is that Gasol is under contract for two more seasons, and over those two years he's owed $38.3 million, about $19 million per year.
Especially with the hard cap, most teams can't afford to take on Gasol's contract.
So, yes, it's true the Lakers can no longer get anyone close to Chris Paul, but they can still get some quality role players.