The rumors are still circulating that a Pau Gasol trade to Minnesota might actually happen, but if the Lakers learned anything from last season's plight, they need to put a stop to the chatter here and now.
After they acquired Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns, the Lakers have become early frontrunners in the Western Conference.
As it stands, they have one of the most complete and talented teams in the league, and trading Gasol before they get a chance to see how this roster plays out will be a mistake. They need him—offensively and defensively—to maintain the core of this team and to compete for a title.
There are still rumors that the Timberwolves are one of the teams interested in acquiring Gasol from L.A., and according to the Associated Press, they could be willing to part with some of their most promising young prospects in exchange for the chance to see if Gasol can turn this Minnesota team into a legitimate contender.
But as it stands, the Lakers should no longer have any intention of trading Gasol. They made him available prior to the NBA draft, it didn't work out, they went in a different direction and they are now in the best position to compete for a title since the last time they won one in 2010.
So why jeopardize that by shopping one of the most crucial components of your frontcourt? Especially when that player was so rattled by trade rumors one season ago that it compromised the chemistry of the entire team?
When rumors began circulating last winter that the Lakers were interested in trading Gasol, it almost led to the implosion of the entire team. Gasol became sulky and difficult, the team started underperforming and Kobe Bryant famously called out the front office for its waffling. In February, Bryant told the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan:
It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all, but if they're going to do something, I wish they would just...do it.
The Lakers should know better than to make the same mistake twice.
Right now, L.A. has the chance to totally redeem itself. It has made perhaps the best overall signing during this year's free-agency period, and the Lakers are now in a position to become the most exciting team in the NBA in the 2012-13 season. They're so close to rebounding from two straight seasons of mediocrity.
All they have to do is put the trade rumors to rest and commit themselves to this roster, with Gasol. Then they can move on toward the future and toward another ring.