6 Reasons L.A. Lakers Need to Pump the Brakes on Pau Gasol Trade Chatter
It doesn't seem as if the Los Angeles Lakers have been outwardly trying to get rid of Pau Gasol in the early stages of this season, but we all seem to be under the impression that they are open to sending him away for the right price. The only thing is that we're all waiting to find out exactly what that price is.
As far as Gasol goes, he's still one of the most skilled post players in the league. He hasn't lost any of his ability in the post, yet it just seems like his body is starting to disagree with him.
There are a lot of reasons why the Lakers would want to trade Gasol at this point. He's obviously on the down slope of his career, his contract is a bit bloated—albeit short—(roughly $38 million over the next two seasons) and they are in need of a slasher for Mike D'Antoni's offensive system.
However, there is an incredible case for Gasol to continue on in his career with the Lakers. He's done a lot for this organization over the past five seasons, and he can continue to contribute for the life of his contract.
With the constant chatter seemingly coming from out of nowhere, Gasol is going to have to end up hearing some of it, and who knows how he'll react to the constant rumors, proposed trades or even just Lakers fans' crazy trade ideas.
It's time to cut down on the chatter. Whether it's coming from somewhere in the Lakers' organization or from other organizations the Lakers are contacting, it seems the most prudent thing would be to end it altogether.
6. Pau Gasol's Injury
With Dwight Howard still obviously recovering from back surgery and Steve Nash out of the lineup with a broken leg, Pau Gasol's nicks and bruises are being overlooked, even though his game is obviously hampered.
Gasol has been dealing with tendinitis in both his knees since the preseason, and for a 7'0" dude who is north of 30 years old, that's not too surprising.
He's had his on games and his off games, but for the most part, he's continued to be an effective member of the Lakers, depending on the role he's been asked to take on.
Not only should he be praised for continuing to play, but he's barely uttered a peep about it since the beginning of the season. If he were a bit more vocal about being hurt, he would probably get a bit more hate, but he would at least have an excuse.
Gasol has said the injury limits his explosiveness, his jumping ability and his quickness, so once he does start to feel better, he'll be back on the right track.
5. His Regression Has Been Too Huge
Stemming from the fact that his knees creak and ache during every game, it makes sense that Gasol's stats have taken a bit of a hit. However, with all the factors surrounding the Lakers this season and the fact that Gasol is struggling so mightily, it seems like his setback is just a temporary thing.
Gasol's offensive numbers seem to be career lows almost all the way around. He's averaging fewer than 14 points per game, his field-goal percentage is down to just above 43 percent, he's shooting 73 percent from the free-throw line and he's seen a bit of a dip in his assist numbers.
A bit of that can be attributed to his new role in the offense (which we'll get to in a bit), but can we really point to a seven percent drop in field-goal percentage and claim it's due to natural regression? Absolutely not.
Lamar Odom has shown us that players can completely fall off the map because of outside influences, but Gasol doesn't seem to be built that way. He dealt with being traded and then un-traded last year in stride, never really seeming phased.
The fact is, Gasol is playing too poorly early on this season compared to last season to believe that there won't be at least a bit of a turnaround in the near future.
4. The Sake of Chemistry
Since 2008, there have been but two constants with the Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
The fact is that these two players work wonderfully together. They don't ever seem to have any problems with each other, they compliment each other on the offensive end and they're both tremendous leaders of a team that is in dire need of stability.
Gasol is the only person who has played with Kobe since their title in 2009, and the only other player who was with the team in 2010 that is still on the team today is Metta World Peace (although he was Ron Artest back then, there's no word on how the name change affected their chemistry).
Los Angeles added two huge components to their roster in the offseason, and with their reliance on so many questionable players coming off the bench at times, it seems reckless to trade one of the most important constants of the past five years.
Imagine how hard it would be to continue to work Dwight Howard into the rotation while adding a guy like Josh Smith or Zach Randolph on the fly.
3. Gasol's Role
For most of the time that he's been with the Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol has been at the very least a co-center alongside Andrew Bynum. His role was always as the big man who could score in the paint with the threat of bopping out and knocking down a 16-footer.
That role flipped as soon as Dwight Howard joined this team. Gasol is the big man who is supposed to be hitting shots outside of the paint with the threat of taking it down low or getting in the lane and going to work.
Statistically, Gasol is playing a completely different game this season. He's taking a whopping 52.1 percent of his shots from outside of the paint this season, with just 29.5 percent of his shots coming from inside the restricted zone.
Compare that to 2011-12, when he was taking just 43.3 percent of his shots from outside the paint and 33.9 from within the restricted zone, and it's easy to tell why the big fellow is struggling—he's playing a completely different role.
The obvious reason for this is that Howard clogs the lane. It seems the easiest way to fix it would be to get Gasol more shots in the paint, specifically the restricted area. To do that, the Lakers are going to have to split the duo up a bit more, playing Gasol alongside Jordan Hill and Howard alongside Antawn Jamison whenever necessary.
2. Lack of Options
It seems like there were about a dozen options for the Lakers back before the trade deadline in February, most of which seem to have evaporated for the time being.
Josh Smith has been a continual name thrown out, but there are thoughts surrounding whether or not Atlanta wants to part with him this early in the season, or if he would even fit with the team alongside Kobe Bryant. How much would two shoot-first wing players clash?
Then there's the trade that was apparently proposed over the summer according to Peter Vescey, a swap of Gasol for Memphis' Zach Randolph. With the way Randolph has been playing this season, I'm guessing he's now considered untouchable until things start to go south again.
During the offseason, there was a rumble from the Associated Press (via USA Today) of Minnesota offering Derrick Williams as a part of a small package for Gasol, but I'm not sure the youth movement will be fully on the table until next summer at the very soonest for the Lakers.
The most recent rumor was a Gasol-Amar'e Stoudemire trade from HOOPSWORLD. I'll sit quietly while you all laugh uncontrollably at that notion for a few minutes.
OK, let's move on then.
1. The Team's Lack of Time Together
It's the main reason why firing Mike Brown was such a ridiculously timed thing to do, and it's the main reason why trading Pau Gasol would be wild and reckless.
The Los Angeles Lakers have played just two regular-season games as a unit, and a whopping three when you include preseason games.
The fact is, without Dwight Howard in the preseason and Steve Nash for the past dozen games, this Lakers team still has no concrete identity. Howard is still recovering from back surgery last May and Nash just hasn't gotten the time to gel with the team.
Give them a lot more time, wait at least until early February before the trade lines open up. If this team isn't the amazing unit everybody expected by then, I guess it would be OK to explore a trade route or two. However, even then, don't just go shipping him off for anybody; make sure it'll be worthwhile.
Oh, what am I talking about—the Lakers always seem to get the better end of every trade they ever make.