Kobe Bryant Casually Sums Up Why the Lakers Should Trade Pau Gasol

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Kobe Bryant Casually Sums Up Why the Lakers Should Trade Pau Gasol
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

According to a Dailynews.com article, the Los Angeles Lakers questioned forward Pau Gasol's conditioning following the the team's lethargic loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, but the only person who was directly quoted was guard Kobe Bryant.

"Pau is used to laboring up the floor and coasting a little bit," Bryant said. "In this offense, we have to put the motor on the first few steps we move up the court."

Those two sentences may not serve as a team-wide assessment of Gasol's performance against the Kings, but it does illustrate a challenge the Lakers will have incorporating Gasol into new head coach Mike D'Antoni's scheme.

And Bryant's words may also prove why the Lakers should begin weighing Gasol's trade value right now.

Gasol has looked mostly lost during the the Lakers' 12 games, and while his 14 points per game and 9.5 rebounds are not horrible, his 43 percent shooting from the field is.

Gasol often receives credit for his perimeter shooting ability, but the first few weeks of the regular season have proved that he is still most effective offensively when he utilizes his size and skill closer to the rim.

The 43 percent from the field ranks as the lowest in Gasol's career, and even though there is hope that his shooting percentage will rebound under D'Antoni, Gasol's offense may not be the Lakers' biggest problem.

It is critical that Gasol is able to get up the court to initiate D'Antoni's fast-paced offense, but he also must be able to get back to stem the tide of fast-break opportunities that are created for the opposition.

If the Lakers offense is run to perfection, a residual effect is a greater number of possessions for their opponents, and it's up to Howard and Gasol to mitigate those potential losses as the team's last line of defense.

Unfortunately Howard is still trying to play himself back into shape, while Gasol has shown no desire to offer a helping hand.

In Sacramento, Gasol was constantly abused by Kings forwards DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson in transition, and Gasol's 3-of-8, 10-point shooting performance was even worse than it looked, since he was mostly limited to hoisting jumpers from the outside.

Howard's presence in the paint means Gasol must still make his offensive living on the perimeter regardless of who is coaching, and nothing D'Antoni does will make Gasol a better defender in the open court.

Gasol has never gotten enough credit for his ability to defend in half-court sets, but now the weakest part of his defensive game has taken center stage for the Lakers.

I'm not sure what the Lakers might hope to obtain for a power forward who is on the downside of his career, but he does have a huge $19 million contract that expires next season, and judging by current events it certainly wouldn't hurt the Lakers to explore their options.

The hopes of acquiring a player of Josh Smith's stature are probably history for the Lakers, but I would be willing to settle for two or three players who can simply get back on defense.

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