Pau Gasol is a survivor.
He survived the Los Angeles Lakers' attempt to acquire a top-tier point guard. He then survived the team's acquisition of Dwight Howard. Now, all that makes sense is for him to survive the latest bout of rumors that have him, once again, packing his bags.
Gasol has been no stranger to trade rumors, nor have we been strangers to perpetuating them. If he wasn't almost traded to the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul, he was being dangled in front of the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo. Let's not pretend like he wasn't readily available to the Orlando Magic in the Lakers' quest to obtain Howard either.
Now, as Gasol continues to struggle to find a niche within Mike D'Antoni's offense, he finds himself in the exact same situation, save for a specific destination.
Los Angeles' big man is currently averaging 13.4 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the floor—both career lows. He and D'Antoni have publicly conflicting viewpoints on how he should be used, and despite the easygoing nature of each, it's clear there is cause for concern.
But is there cause to deal him? Should the Lakers actively be shopping the four-time All-Star?
The Lakers aren't actively looking to trade Gasol right now, The Times has learned, because they want to see what happens when Nash returns from a small fracture in his leg.
After that, there are two important dates: Dec. 15 is when teams can deal players they signed during the off-season, opening up about 20% more of the NBA's player pool; and Feb. 21, the league's trade deadline.
Could Gasol very well make another cameo on the chopping block prior to the trade deadline? Of course. This is the NBA, after all, where only a handful of players actually are untouchable.
That said, there isn't much for the Lakers to gain by parting ways with the Spaniard—not at this point.
Not only have we yet to see what Gasol will do next to a healthy and motivated Steve Nash, but Los Angeles is never going to receive adequate value in return for the big man. The seven-footer is 32, and as prolific as his past stat lines suggest he can be, the Lakers aren't going to land another All-Star in return.
So why even create unnecessary tension by trying?
Acquiring the likes of Josh Smith and Kyle Korver in exchange for Gasol's services is an intriguing possibility to consider. Except that it's not a possibility (per ESPN.com).
The Atlanta Hawks aren't about to trade away a franchise cornerstone in Smith—whose departure would signify a rebuilding period—only to attempt to assemble a roster around an aging big man.
Is this to say there wouldn't be a market for Gasol? Not at all, because there would be. But it's not going to be one that does his value justice. Not unless the Lakers are high on the near-immovable contract that is Amar'e Stoudemire's.
But they aren't. How could they be? Stoudemire's knees are as structurally sound as jello and he's owed Kobe Bryant-esque money over the next three years, money that would essentially kill Los Angeles' chances at landing LeBron James in 2014.
And if that is the genre of return that awaits Gasol's departure, why on earth should the Lakers even entertain the idea of moving the power forward?
Again, they shouldn't, and they won't.
Gasol's contract is steep, but it comes off the books at the end of next season, just like Bryant's and Metta World Peace's. From there, the Lakers have a healthy portion of cap space available that they can throw the way of any superstar they wish. They're not about to give up that future luxury.
Sure, Los Angeles—understandably so—wants to contend for a title now, but who's to say Gasol prevents the team from chasing a championship? Better yet, what makes us believe dealing him away brings the Lakers closer to their ultimate goal?
Yes, he's struggling and, yes, has nearly 12 years of wear and tear on that body of his, but this is the same player who averaged over 17 points per game just a year ago. This is the same player who has already helped Kobe and company to two NBA titles.
This is the same Gasol who has proven on more than one occasion this season that he can still be a force on the offense.
This is the same Gasol who the Lakers still need.
Bear in mind that Los Angeles is 4-1 this season when the big man drops 17 or more points. If anything, that proves the team's success is predicated of getting Gasol involved, not on its ability to ship him out in favor of some spare parts.
So from any which way you look at it, relegating Gasol to the chopping block just doesn't make sense. Not from a financial perspective, nor a competitive one. He can still help the Lakers win; he can still help this team contend for a championship.
"He can easily play our system and he's going to be a very important player for us," D'Antoni told the Los Angeles Times.
And that will hold true for the foreseeable future. Neither the Lakers nor D'Antoni himself are going to remain anything but committed to Gasol.
It doesn't make sense for them not to.
All stats in this article are accurate as of November 27th, 2012.