It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have been shopping Pau Gasol around extensively over the past few months. Now, it appears that the Atlanta Hawks would be willing to take on the Spanish power forward in exchange for their forward, Josh Smith—a move that makes a ton of sense for both teams.
According to Los Angeles Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan:
The Atlanta Hawks have been pursuing Pau Gasol, The Times has learned. Nothing imminent, but Josh Smith would be key piece going to Lakers.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) June 27, 2012
Lakers fans, you should hope that this trade comes true. Hawks fans, so should you. This deal makes all the sense in the world for both teams for multiple reasons.
It would help the Lakers in their continual quest to get younger. Gasol will be 32 years old when the season starts back up in November. Smith, on the other hand, will turn 27 within the first month of the season. That’s a five-year difference, which is huge, especially when you consider that Smith’s numbers are as good as or better than Gasol’s in most categories.
The potential move would finally allow the Hawks to slide Al Horford over to his natural position at the power-forward spot. Gasol has a history of playing center throughout his career, and he did so most of the time while he was in Memphis. Horford has played out of position his entire career and would finally be able to flourish in his natural role.
Smith has been mentioned in trade rumors for a year now. If I had a dollar for every team he’s been connected to, I’d have enough money to buy myself something cool at a convenience store.
Anyway, this will also give him some form of stability, because he certainly hasn’t had that with the Hawks lately. He’s never really seemed to be a good fit for his team. They’ve always wanted a more traditional setup, and Smith really isn’t a traditional type of player. He doesn’t fit neatly into a position.
That’s exactly what the Lakers need.
Meanwhile, Gasol has also suffered from a lack of stability with the Lakers. After they tried to trade him to the Houston Rockets in a deal for Chris Paul before the season, the Lakers were also mentioned in rumors around the trade deadline involving deals to send Gasol elsewhere. This would offer him some form of consistency, as well the opportunity to play in an environment with much less pressure.
Another thing this trade would do for the Lakers is give them some much-needed athleticism. Smith is one of the most talented all-around players in the NBA. This past season, he averaged 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He also posted a player efficiency rating of 22.1. Few players in the league are that multi-faceted.
Smith can play on the perimeter as well, which is advantageous defensively with his 6’9” frame. He’ll have no trouble guarding teams when they go small.
Right now, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant, Gasol, Andrew Bynum and nothing else really but three-point shooters. They need a player who can play inside and out who can give defenses trouble matchup-wise.
This deal would be great for both teams involved. It gives the Hawks the lineup that they’ve wanted, with a true center and Horford at the power forward. And it gives the Lakers more athleticism and a talented playmaker. It makes both rosters better and the deal should happen immediately.