L.A. Lakers: 7 Teams That Should Be Interested in Pau Gasol

Imaz ACorrespondent IIJune 6, 2012

L.A. Lakers: 7 Teams That Should Be Interested in Pau Gasol

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    After being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers put themselves in the position of making some major offseason moves.

    Many speculate that a Pau Gasol trade will be a significant part of the Lakers’ plan to be dominant once again.

    Although Gasol disappeared many times during the postseason, he is still a very productive player that many teams would love to acquire.

    Here are seven of those teams. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers surprised many this postseason when they forced a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

    Clearly, the Sixers are a young team to look out for in the future.

    However, because there are already contenders in the East such as the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, it will be difficult for the Sixers to get over the hump.

    Acquiring a skilled veteran like Pau Gasol, nonetheless, could allow the Sixers to advance further in the playoffs.

    In order to get Gasol, the Sixers would likely have to give up Andre Iguodala and another piece.

    Cutting ties with Iguodala wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Sixers to do considering the fact that they have similar players in Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.

    The main reason why the Sixers should acquire Gasol is for his offense.

    Gasol was one of the best offensive contributors in the league this season—he led his team with 5.3 offensive win shares, which also put him at 13th in the league.

    As a Sixer, Gasol would utilize his skills as a scorer and willing passer to allow the team to improve their ailing offense that struggled to get good shots throughout the past season.

    Gasol could also provide a valuable veteran presence, which is important for any young team to have.

    A major issue that the Sixers will face if they acquire Gasol is whether he and Brand will fit together in the frontcourt—one of them will have to play center instead of power forward.

Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets have expressed their desire to have Pau Gasol as a part of their team for quite a while, dating back to the infamous vetoed Chris Paul trade.

    Currently, the Rockets’ starting power forward is Luis Scola.

    While he has shown signs of brilliance, Scola’s production declined this year—his scoring and rebounding dipped to 15.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG.

    Already, the Rockets have a nice backcourt of Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin.

    So, in order to lift themselves from ‘the middle’ of the NBA standings, the Rockets should bolster their frontcourt by getting rid of Luis Scola and acquiring Pau Gasol.

    The Rockets will most likely have to give up both Scola and Lowry for Gasol.

    While giving up Lowry may seem like it would have a negative effect on the Rockets, it’s easy to see that it won’t.

    Dragic is clearly ready to be a starter for the Rockets—he averaged 18.9 PPG and 7.7 APG in April.

    Gasol will significantly improve the Rockets frontcourt because he is better than Scola in virtually all facets of the game.

    Firstly, Gasol is a more productive scorer and rebounder—he averaged 17 PPG and 10 RPG this season.

    Gasol is also a better defender—he allowed 0.79 points per possession compared to Scola’s 0.88 according to mysynergysports.com.

    With Gasol as a part of the team’s frontline, the Rockets will be a formidable team in the West.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Milwaukee Bucks’ starting frontline this year was composed of Drew Gooden and Ekpe Udoh—needless to say, they absolutely need to improve. 

    One of the major reasons why the Bucks have missed the playoffs the last two seasons is because they lack scoring from the power forward and center positions.

    While the Bucks can find offensive-minded big guy during this year’s NBA draft, they should consider trading for a proven player with championship experience such as Pau Gasol.

    As the Bucks’ starting power forward or center, Gasol will most likely average a double-double—19 PPG and 10 RPG.

    That’s very close to what Drew Gooden and Ekpe Udoh averaged combined. 

    In order to acquire Gasol, the Bucks will probably have to give up their starting point guard, Brandon Jennings.

    That will present a problem for the team, but it may be beneficial.

    Jennings has not demonstrated real interest to stay with the Bucks long-term, and the Bucks may be able to nab a solid point guard like Kendall Marshall with their 12th pick.

    A trio of Marshall, Monta Ellis and Gasol may be good enough to make the playoffs, especially in the Eastern Conference.  

Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks have made the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, which is pretty impressive considering they were a very bad team in years prior.

    While it’s impressive that the Hawks have made the playoffs, they haven’t gone past the second round in each of the past five years—they haven’t shown signs of improvement.

    The team’s lack of major improvement indicates that they’ll probably not get very far with the team that they currently have.

    It’s time they shake things up.

    With one year left on his deal, it seems that the Hawks would have to trade Josh Smith to get Pau Gasol.

    While Smith is a younger and more athletic player than Gasol, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s better in all facets of the game.

    Offensively, Gasol’s intimidating post presence will fit in very well alongside Al Horford, a player who thrives on hitting mid-range jumpers.

    Gasol’s post game wasn’t highlighted much this year because he spent a lot of time near the free-throw line and perimeter in Mike Brown’s offense.

    It’s important to note, though, that Gasol is one of the best post players in the league—according to my synergysports.com, he averaged 0.95 points per possession from the post, which is one of the highest in the league.

    Furthermore, while Smith is a great defender in the fact that he blocks shots at high volumes, Gasol is a better post and pick-and-roll defender according to mysynergysports.com.

    Offensively and defensively, Gasol has the potential of doing some great things as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. 

Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings have been a lottery team for the past six seasons.

    However, the future is looking brighter because the team has a great starting center in DeMarcus Cousins who will be an All-Star if he continues to improve.

    If the Kings were to pair a selfless veteran like Pau Gasol with Cousins, the team could be a scary playoff team.

    Not only could Gasol instill a winning attitude in a young and immature Cousins, but he can also provide a couple of very productive seasons with a double-double in points and rebounds.

    Gasol will also aid in facilitating the young offense because he is a great passing big man.

    In order to get Gasol, the Kings will probably have to give up Tyreke Evans.

    That won’t be a major problem because the Evans has had problems fitting in with the team—in fact, the Kings have expressed interest in trading him.

    With a frontcourt of Cousins and Gasol, a nice backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton, the Kings will have a formidable team, especially if they’re able to draft Harrison Barnes with their fifth pick.   

Toronto Raptors

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    The Toronto Raptors have never been a great team since their inception in 1995.

    Currently, the Raptors have a few good young pieces to build around such as Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas.

    However, it doesn’t seem like the Raptors will be able to make the playoffs immediately with that lineup.

    In order to bolster their chances and become a relevant team, the Raptors should be interested in acquiring Pau Gasol.

    To make the trade a possibility, the Raptors will likely have to give up Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.

    This will be beneficial for the Raptors because it will give a young Jerryd Bayless a chance to start, and it will allow their new center Valanciunas to play alongside the skilled veteran power forward, Pau Gasol.

    Gasol can be a leader to the young Raptors team, and he will be a significant upgrade over Andrea Bargnani.

    Although Bargnani is a great jump shooter, he doesn’t provide the post presence that Gasol does.

    Gasol has a more diverse offensive arsenal—he can shoot the mid-range jumper and dominate in the post with a wide array of moves.

    Furthermore, Gasol’s defense is an upgrade over Bargnani’s—Gasol had a defensive win share of 3.1 this season while Bargnani had a defensive win share of 0.9.

    With Gasol on the roster, the Raptors will have a great chance of making the playoffs next season, especially if the team is able to draft another wing player to complement DeRozan. 

Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls were one of the first teams to reportedly express interest in acquiring Pau Gasol.

    With Gasol as their starting power forward, the Bulls would have a reliable No. 2 guy to pair up with Derrick Rose.

    In the most ideal situation, the Bulls would love to get rid of Carlos Boozer and other pieces for Gasol. 

    That’s understandable because Gasol would be big upgrade over Boozer, on the offensive and defensive end.  

    As a member of the Utah Jazz, Carlos Boozer was a double-double machine, but his production tailed off last season when he averaged 15.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG.

    Unlike Boozer, Gasol is still capable of logging in double-doubles in big minutes.

    Also, Gasol’s offensive dominance over Boozer can be seen in comparing their offensive win shares—Gasol contributed 5.3 and Boozer contributed 3.3.

    Many times last season, the Bulls offense was somewhat stagnant because they relied too much on Derrick Rose.

    Gasol will help alleviate the situation with this skills in the post, as well as with his ability to create for teammates.  

    In addition to being a more reliable offensive player, Gasol could also be a better defensive presence for the Bulls than Boozer is.

    Gasol allows fewer points per possession on the defensive end, and he is a significantly better post defender—according to mysynergysports.com, Gasol allowed 0.73 points per possession on the post while Boozer allowed a whopping 1.06.

    With Gasol on the roster, the Chicago Bulls will be a better team.

    In fact, Gasol may be able to lead them to a good record during the regular season while Derrick Rose rehabs from his ACL injury.