The revamped Lakers may not be done making moves this offseason. There are no indications of discussions happening that would suggest a renewal of Pau Gasol for Josh Smith trade talks at this time.
Ideas about this trade being possible come from the failed talks at the end of June that claimed the Lakers wanted too much in return from the Atlanta Hawks in order to move Gasol for Smith, as Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Los Angeles has already had a tremendous offseason, adding Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks to this point. While some have labeled them early title contenders because of this, however, there are still legitimate concerns about their defense, age and depth in their frontcourt.
Adding a dominant low-post defender like Smith would alleviate the heavy concerns about defense in the paint. Gasol brings a lot to the team in terms of rebounding and scoring, but he isn’t the force down low that Smith can be.
A counterpoint may be that Howard will make up for Gasol’s deficiencies. That’s certainly a possibility, but at 32 years old Gasol is beginning to turn the corner of his career. Smith, 26, is an ideal building piece for the Lakers if they hope to entice Howard to commit long-term at the Staples Center.
After all, Smith and Howard are pretty much best friends, and what could be better than the two playing out their careers under the huge spotlight of Hollywood?
Howard’s presence may bring out the best in Gasol and allow him to concentrate on scoring. However, the Lakers don’t necessarily need Gasol’s scoring talents if teams are concentrating on Smith and Howard down low. Nash will be free to create for himself, and Kobe Bryant and other shooters while the big men eat up space and attention in the paint.
A Smith and Howard combination would prove to be unstoppable for so many different reasons.
Besides their friendship, the two bigs play dominantly down low and around the rim. A duo like that could impose its will on opposing offenses. With being able to prevent opponents from executing around the paint, the Lakers will have the upper hand against every contending team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder has Serge Ibaka down low, but their true strength is in their athletic scorers. With Ibaka less of a threat to score, the Lakers can better shut down the paint and take away the penetration that created so much for their offense a season ago.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, will be harder to contain to an extent. Miami has too many weapons to effectively shut them down, but they can be slowed. However, Smith’s tenacious defense could help neutralize Chris Bosh and take away his ability to find open looks on the perimeter. Add in Dwight Howard in the middle and Miami will be challenged more and have to rely on their perimeter game to score.
In a seven-game series, it’s never smart to rely on your jumper to carry your team’s scoring.
If the Lakers get an opportunity to make this happen, they should seriously consider it—it will be a big win for the team now and for the next 10-plus years.
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