NBA Rumors: Los Angeles Lakers Must Move Pau Gasol to Improve Roster

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIJune 1, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 14: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers watches near the end of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City defeated Los Angeles 119-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

If the Los Angeles Lakers hope to compete for an NBA championship in the next few seasons, they are going to have to trade Pau Gasol in order to improve their roster. 

We already know that Gasol's status in Los Angeles is up in the air after the failed trade for Chris Paul showed the team was willing to part with him to get better. Gasol will turn 32 this summer and still has two years and $38 million left on his contract. Given the Lakers' tough salary cap situation, they need to move his deal off the books and get young players in return to help a roster that is lacking in both athleticism and youth.

Gasol is really the only valuable piece the Lakers have that they can move as a trade asset. Kobe Bryant obviously isn't going anywhere and neither is Andrew Bynum. That leaves the Spaniard as the only movable piece on the roster. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets have expressed interest in Gasol in the past and both teams can offer young, athletic players and draft picks in return. The Lakers must pursue every offer available and rely on teams believing that if Gasol is a first or second option, he can return to All-Star form.

I really like Pau Gasol. I think he's a great guy, an outstanding ambassador for the NBA and he's one of the most skilled big men in the league. That said, as the third option on an aging team, his production has sagged considerably. He was disappointing in the postseason again and couldn't help lead the Lakers past Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.

In order to get better this offseason and clear some cap space for the future, Los Angeles must move Gasol and his contract. It is the only route the Lakers have open to them at this point.