Los Angeles Lakers Must Resist Urge to Trade Pau Gasol After Steve Nash Deal

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIJuly 13, 2012

The Los Angeles Lakers made fireworks on the Fourth of July with a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns.

Suddenly, Lakers fans had reason to turn their frowns upside down during discussions about a championship window. Indeed, such discussion hinges on whether the Lakers keep trying to move Pau Gasol.

Acquiring Nash brought the Lakers closer to having a fully dynamic lineup when it comes to offense. Without a question, Kobe Bryant remains an amazing offensive player.

In 2011-12, Andrew Bynum finally blossomed into the dynamo Lakers fans knew he could be. At 38, Nash has defied age with his remaining capabilities.

Metta World Peace is a non-factor on offense on most nights.

That brings us to Gasol. While Gasol is on the decline, he's still a force on offense. Despite an 11-point drop in offensive rating from 2010-11 to 2011-12, Gasol produced a stellar 112 points per 100 possessions.

He remained a strong inside ball-handler, turning it over on 12.1 percent of possessions, the fourth-best rate of his career.

Gasol is a strong passer, especially for a power forward. He averaged 3.7 assists per game, the second highest average of his career. That ranked him second among power forwards, behind only Josh Smith.

While Gasol's scoring average was down a bit (from 18.8 per game in 2010-11 to 17.4 per game in 2011-12), he was still eighth in the category among power forwards who played in at least 50 games. Thus, he continues to provide a scoring punch that's not easy to replace for his position.

With the strong offensive tools that Gasol has, compared to those at his position, it's hard to think that the Lakers would trade him.

Anyway, besides Dwight Howard, the trade rumors involving Gasol would fall far short of providing immediate relief. According to the Associated Press (via SI.com), the Minnesota Timberwolves had tried to trade for Pau Gasol in a deal that would have had Derrick Williams going to L.A.

Williams is far from being developed enough to fill Gasol's shoes if that were to happen.

The now-moot rumors (as Chris Broussard of ESPN tweeted) of the Houston Rockets pursuing Gasol would have done the Lakers no good as far as the power forward position is concerned.

Like Gasol, Luis Scola—who the Houston Chronicle rumored to be a piece in a possible deal for Gasol—is on the decline. And Scola never was on the same level as Gasol. He's not as prolific a scorer as Gasol is.

Peter Vecsey tweeted that Zach Randolph is a possibility to be moved for Gasol. Randolph has been a terrific scorer for the Memphis Grizzlies. But he might not be a good fit with the Lakers.

His first tour in L.A. with the Clippers in 2009 wasn't exactly a memorable experience. He touched the ball more than necessary, resulting in more turnovers, and shot a subpar 70 percent from the line.

Anyway, the Lakers wouldn't want to rip Randolph from his happiness in Memphis. He seems at peace with his teammates and surroundings. Removing him from that could produce unintended moodiness.

Besides, Vecsey's rumor is dead on arrival since Michael Heisley told The Commercial Appeal that he's not breaking up the Grizzlies' core.

Another fantastic player—one who could actually be a good fit with the Lakers—is Josh Smith. Smith would give that burst of athleticism and scoring that Pau Gasol gave in his prime.

Too bad Smith, like Randolph, isn't going anywhere. According to ESPN, new Hawks GM Danny Ferry wants to ease back before considering the possibility of trading Smith, who had been purported to be in a trade possibility involving Gasol.

By the time Ferry might consider trading Smith, the Lakers will have put the thought of trading Gasol aside as they charge forth with a head of steam with their rock-steady lineup. Gasol will use what athleticism he still has to create attractive looks for Nash to act upon.

Gasol will use those opportunities to pick up his offensive game a bit. He'll be able to score a little more and connect more efficiently with an elite point guard running the offense.

The Lakers haven't completely lost use for their Spanish big man. He remains a potent scorer and a skilled passer. He makes good decisions with the ball in his hands.

By hanging onto Gasol, the Lakers will ensure that they'll be able to make the most of their newly-formed offensive look.

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