Lakers Trade Speculation: 5 Trades L.A. Lakers Could Make to Move Pau Gasol
This is a franchise that has shown a previous willingness to part with Gasol, and as the team's only real trade asset moving forward, it wouldn't be surprising whatsoever to see him dealt before the 2012-13 season begins.
A number of teams will likely express interest in the 7-footer if he's made available, and the Lakers need to find a way to keep Kobe Bryant's title window open while making significant improvements to the roster.
The Lakers' lack of of depth was routinely exposed last season, and this is a club that has to focus on improving both its youth and athleticism.
Here are five potential trades centered around Gasol that Los Angeles could explore in the offseason
5. Pau Gasol to the Minnesota Timberwolves
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Minnesota Timberwolves receive: F/C Pau Gasol, future second-round pick
Los Angeles Lakers receive: PF Derrick Williams, G/F Martell Webster, G/F Wesley Johnson
In February, a rumor surfaced that the Timberwolves were interested in acquiring Gasol in a package built around Derrick Williams. The second overall pick of the 2011 class never really found his groove in Minnesota during his rookie season, and his path to significant playing time at power forward was blocked by Kevin Love.
Wouldn't it make sense for these two teams to once again have a conversation about a potential Gasol deal? Despite Nikola Pekovic's emergence last season, Gasol would bring a strong frontcourt presence alongside Love and would have no trouble finding chemistry with a point guard he's played with previously in Ricky Rubio.
The move allows the T-Wolves to get Webster's unsightly contract off the books, while the Lakers would get younger and more athletic on the wing and simultaneously land a power forward of the future in Williams.
4. Pau Gasol to the Sacramento Kings
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Sacramento Kings receive: F/C Pau Gasol, SF Christian Eyenga
Los Angeles Lakers receive: G/F Tyreke Evans, F/C Chuck Hayes, G/F John Salmons
The Sacramento Bee previously reported that the Kings will "entertain" trade offers for Tyreke Evans, so one has to wonder if there's a deal to be made between two teams that share a home state.
This scenario depends on what Sacramento's draft plans are in June, but a pairing of Pau Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins beneath the basket would be downright frightening for the opposition.
With the emergence of rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas last season, Evans was left playing small forward, and that was an experiment that had its ups and downs. If the Kings could draft someone like Harrison Barnes, wouldn't it make sense to pull the trigger on an Evans-for-Gasol swap?
Sacramento would rid itself of John Salmons' horrendous contract in the process of acquiring Gasol, while the Lakers would finally get a young, athletic playmaker at point guard in Evans to work alongside Kobe Bryant.
3. Pau Gasol to the Philadelphia 76ers
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Philadelphia 76ers receive: F/C Pau Gasol, future second-round pick
Los Angeles Lakers receive: SF Andre Iguodala, C Nikola Vucevic
The Lakers are "expected" to emerge as a suitor for Andre Iguodala's services in the offseason should the Sixers look to deal him once again, and it makes some sense considering how badly the team needs an impact player on the wing.
Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reported the Lakers and Sixers were talking about the parameters of a potential Iguodala deal before the 2011-12 season started, so it's not exactly a startling revelation that Los Angles may have a renewed interest.
A swap centered around Gasol and Iguodala would seemingly make sense for both sides, if (and only if) Philadelphia is willing to use its amnesty clause on Elton Brand. With the veteran scheduled to make approximately $18 million next year, that's a move that the Sixers have to be considering.
Adding Iguodala would give the Lakers an elite perimeter defender and allow the club to think about using its amnesty clause on Metta World Peace, who simply isn't the same player he was earlier in his career.
2. Pau Gasol to the Atlanta Hawks
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Atlanta Hawks receive: F/C Pau Gasol
Los Angeles Lakers receive: PF Josh Smith, SF Marvin Williams
This is one potential deal that could really help both teams retool for the future.
For the Hawks, acquiring Pau Gasol would allow the team to shift Al Horford to his natural power forward position. As we've seen previously, Gasol has shown the ability to thrive at center and could really make for a formidable frontline alongside Horford.
With just one season left on his contract, the Lakers would have to be confident that Smith would be willing to re-sign, but he would add a dynamic element to the roster that just hasn't been present over the last few seasons.
Smith's athleticism (and versatile game) would make for a very solid complement to Andrew Bynum, and although Marvin Williams has not lived up to expectations, he would help to address the scoring problem Los Angeles has with its small forward position.
1. Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets
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Houston Rockets receive: F/C Pau Gasol, SF Christian Eyenga, future second-round pick
Los Angeles Lakers receive: PG Kyle Lowry, PF Luis Scola, PF Patrick Patterson
If the Lakers are intent on trading Pau Gasol before next season begins, general manager Mitch Kupchak should be making his first call to Houston's (general manager) Daryl Morey.
With Kyle Lowry now disgruntled under Kevin McHale and potentially seeking a trade, it's logical for the Rockets to discuss him with the Lakers in a deal for Gasol. Goran Dragic proved more than capable of starting last season, and trading Lowry would pave the way for the team to re-sign Dragic and make him the clear-cut starter.
The Lakers would fill the power forward void with Luis Scola, add an athletic big man to the second unit in Patrick Patterson and finally have a long-term answer at the point guard position the team has been in search of for so long.