L.A. Lakers: Pau Gasol for Josh Smith Is Change That Lakers Fans Can Believe in

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 27, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MAY 10:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts to a call in the second half against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 83-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

In the world of hoops a real change that fans can believe in could be brewing in Los Angeles.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Atlanta Hawks began vigorously pursuing a Pau Gasol for Josh Smith swap shortly after the Lakers were eliminated from the 2012 NBA Playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ironically, I recently explored this exact same scenario in a recent article, and if the rumors are true I am just as optimistic about the possibility of a deal right now.

Financially, the Lakers could save a few dollars with a swap for Smith since his $13 million salary is less than Gasol's nearly $20 million salary, and while the Lakers will lose their famed height advantage, they will benefit tremendously from Smith's athleticism.

The advantages of a Lakers roster with Smith doesn't end with his athleticism.

Smith is also a superior defender, rebounder and he's better suited to play more of a perimeter role in Mike Brown's offense, which Gasol visibly struggled to do for most of the 2011-12 season.

The Lakers would be capable of playing at a faster pace with Smith running loose on the break, and more importantly, the Lakers' roster gets a little younger in the star department.

If Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak can convince Smith to sign a long-term deal, the Lakers are set in the frontcourt when you consider that center Andrew Bynum is only 24 years old.

The chances of re-signing Smith to a deal, compared to chasing a player like Deron Williams, is much more feasible.

Smith may demand more than the current money he is making, but it's doubtful that he can expect to cost as much as Gasol's current contract.

Of course there are some people who will question the validity of this rumor, since on the surface, it seems to outrageously favor the Lakers; but remember, this is a deal the Hawks requested.

Gasol's presence on the Hawks' roster will allow forward Al Horford to move back to his natural position, and Pau's passing ability in the paint would lessen the load on young point guard Jeff Teague.

In my opinion this is a great deal for both teams, and if the Lakers are looking to dramatically improve their roster for the future, this is a great step.

Some Lakers fans believe that breaking up the seven foot duo of Bynum and Gasol is a bad idea since few teams in the league possess a height advantage like that in the middle.

However, the Lakers' last two disappointing playoff performances have led me to believe that it's time for a change.

Gasol for Smith is change that I and Lakers fans can truly believe in.