Pau Gasol needs a helping hand - will he stay or will he go?
Pau Gasol must be starting to feel like a human bobblehead. He's leaving, he's staying, he's up, he's down. He's traded, he's not.
Like that bouncing bobblehead, you just never seem to know which way it's going to go.
Of all the possible options presented to the Lakers—and there are not many—Gasol is the logical asset that could simultaneously help lower their payroll and bring in young, athletic talent to pair with the emerging Andrew Bynum, veteran Kobe Bryant and whoever else happens to be wearing purple and gold come this fall.
The worst-kept secret in Lakers history is that management has unsuccessfully tried to ship Gasol out of Los Angeles for almost a year. While still considered by many to be the premier skilled power forward in the game, Gasol's value to the current Lakers roster appears to have eroded.
To date, Gasol has been headed out of town to Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Toronto, Memphis, Minneapolis and Sacramento, all in trades that haven't happened...yet. Perhaps the basketball Gods are trying to tell us something.
For all those fans who love Gasol and the enormous contributions he's made to help the team win back-to-back world championships in 2009 and 2010, they must also realize that, in order to get quality players in a trade, you have to be prepared to give up quality.
And so, if the Lakers are able to swing a deal with either Atlanta for Josh Smith or Minnesota for Derrick Williams or even Sacramento for DeMarcus Cousins, they owe it to themselves and their fans to make the trade.
Both the Hawks and Timberwolves are said to covet Gasol, even though he comes with a gigantic $38 million, two-year contract which would require several players and a large calculator being added to the pot to figure out the financial component.
Is trading Pau Gasol for younger players a good move by the Lakers?
Reports out of Minneapolis Thursday suggest that the Timberwolves are in hot pursuit of the soon-to-be 32-year-old Gasol. Management feels he would be an ideal complementary piece to match with All-Star forward Kevin Love and emerging point guard Ricky Rubio.
SportsIllustrated.com posted this piece by AP's Jon Krawczynski:
"The Minnesota Timberwolves are pulling out all the stops in an effort to land Pau Gasol. If they have to part with the highest draft choice in franchise history after just one season, the Wolves appear ready to do it.
"The Wolves' interest in Gasol has long been rumored, with the highly skilled big man considered an ideal fit for coach Rick Adelman's corner offense, and the kind of playoff-tested veteran needed on one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. He is also close friends with Rubio, the Wolves' superb young point guard who is recovering from a torn ACL and hopes to be ready early next season."
And so the anxiety continues for another day. If a deal happens, it should benefit the Lakers over the long haul. But if a trade does not go down, then L.A. will have to find a way to maximize the Spaniard's skills for the next two years.
Mike Brown and his staff must revisit their offensive schemes to make sure that Gasol gets to play closer to the basket and get more touches from 5-10 feet.
Brown must share some of the blame—he did not properly utilize Gasol this season, preferring to make Andrew Bynum the core in the center and move Pau into a facilitator's role away from the rim. The whole experiment messed with his head and his game.
Yet, despite all that and the constant trade rumors, Gasol still managed to average 17.4 points on 50 percent shooting to go along with 10.4 rebounds, marking the third straight year he's been in double figures in rebounds.
However this all plays out, one thing is certain: Pau Gasol is a future Hall of Fame selection and one of the classiest guys to ever grace the NBA.
The Lakers would not hurt themselves by keeping Pau Gasol in purple and gold for another two years.
For those trying to ride him out of town, be careful what you wish for.