The Los Angeles Lakers seem intent on finding a way to wriggle their way into the NBA Finals, even going as far as to trade Pau Gasol, if rumors surrounding him are true.
An idea going around is that the Lakers would be willing to part with Gasol if it meant they would be able reel in Josh Smith and a nice three-point shooter, like Kyle Korver. It might make for a good trade for both sides, but it seems a bit risky on either side as well.
For the Lakers they end up with a guy who is known for taking terrible shots. Giving him the freedom of a Mike D'Antoni system could end up being mighty disastrous should he continue to be shot happy and allergic to post play.
For the Hawks, it would mean they're continuing to break down the core of their team, risking whatever chemistry they may have had. Plus there's always the question as to whether or not Gasol is past his prime.
The 33-year-old Gasol has seen his field goal percentage drop incrementally over the past four seasons and his scoring drop off dramatically after Phil Jackson and his triangle offense left Los Angeles.
Gasol-to-Atlanta has been a trade rumor for months now, dating back to before Los Angeles' acquisition of Steve Nash, only to die off and eventually be reborn recently with the Lakers struggles keeping everyone on their toes.
There's a problem with that, however. Gasol going to Atlanta would hinge on the Hawks actually wanting Pau Gasol, which doesn't seem to be the case right now.
For the time being, Atlanta seems fine to stand pat and keep Smith at least until the trade deadline, at which point they'll take a look at the makeup of their team, where they stand in the Eastern Conference and re-evaluate what to do with Smith. It's the best approach to take at this point.
The Lakers are going to have to accept the fact that it seems their options for Gasol are completely gone, unless somebody ends up getting desperate when the trade deadline comes around.
Over the course of the past year, a few teams in particular had interest in Gasol, none of which have a reason or the means to trade for him now.
One of the most obvious targets was Atlanta initially. It seemed a foregone conclusion that Smith would end up leaving Atlanta via free agency next offseason, but now it's not as obvious. Besides, it makes more sense for them to trade him at the trade deadline to a desperate team.
Minnesota was briefly interested in Gasol, but the Lakers weren't willing to bite on a package centered around Derrick Williams.
The Timberwolves definitely have more assets to trade now, but it's up in the air as to whether or not they'd be willing to part with them. Los Angeles would likely want Andrei Kirilenko, but it's hard to imagine the T-Wolves wanting to part with much more after he's played so brilliantly early on.
Memphis was briefly involved in Gasol trade rumors, apparently looking to team up the Brothers Gasol, even willing to trade Zach Randolph, but nothing ever materialized.
If the Lakers called Memphis tomorrow to offer the same trade, the Grizzlies would hang up. The Grizzlies are playing far too well together to break them up this early in the season.
The other team interested was the Houston Rockets. The Rockets actually did trade for him as a part of the "basketball reasons" trade centered around Chris Paul last December, but he was sent back to Los Angeles after David Stern vetoed the trade.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey was set on finding a superstar to bring to their team, and his sights were set on Gasol for the longest time. Unfortunately, he found James Harden as an easy replacement and is now likely content with the team he has.
It's not that Morey wouldn't want Gasol, but rather that they don't have the pieces to trade for him anymore. Aside from Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and possibly Omer Asik, the Lakers probably wouldn't be interested in anyone else, unless they were to offer up Harden, of course.
The problem there is that Houston's not trading Harden (in all likelihood) and the Rockets couldn't put together a package that would peak the Lakers interest enough to ship Gasol away.
It's time to face the music, and in this case it might be beautiful music, Gasol is staying in Los Angeles. It's crazy to think that an NBA team would have to reluctantly accept that they have to keep Pau Gasol.
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