With every game that the Los Angeles Lakers drop, rumors and speculation about Pau Gasol trade offers will only keep flooding in to the office and attention of Mitch Kupchak. After all, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are going to get most of the credit for any success, while Gasol will continue to be the convenient scapegoat.
The Spaniard has also played at a remarkably low level this season, at least relative to the expectations he's set for himself with his stellar performances throughout his career in purple and gold. Gasol, despite his versatile talent on the court, just hasn't been a good fit for Mike D'Antoni's system thus far.
An up-tempo offense and lack of ball dominance, in addition to his exorbitant contract that runs through the 2013-14 season, make Gasol an expendable player on the Lakers' roster as well as a viable trade candidate.
However, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Lakers maintain that Gasol won't be traded in the near future:
Sources close to the situation stressed again this week that the Lakers don't want to even think about trading Gasol and making another huge on-the-fly change until after Steve Nash returns, based on the premise that it's impossible to make a judgment on whether the Gasol-Dwight Howard tag team is forever ill-meshing until Nash is playing 30-something minutes a night.
Even if Gasol isn't dealt right away, L.A. will have to look into a number of options as the frontcourt continues to show poor chemistry and fails to live up to the enormous preseason expectations heaped upon its shoulders. Dwight Howard's shoulders might be big enough to do the heavy lifting, but Gasol's pale in comparison.
So, let's take a look at some realistic offers that might actually happen in the future.
Swap for Ryan Anderson
The big name in the rumor mill lately has been Ryan Anderson, the sharp-shooting power forward currently playing for the New Orleans Hornets.
Anderson has actually managed to continue improving after his move from the Orlando Magic to the Hornets, although that could be due in part to the absence of Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon from the lineup. He's demonstrating a remarkable ability from behind the three-point arc, one that would fit in perfectly with D'Antoni's run-and-gun mentality.
It's no secret that the mustachioed head coach is in love with the three-ball, which makes Anderson a living, breathing dream for him. The power forward's ability to stretch the floor would do wonders for Howard on the interior and relive Kobe Bryant of some of the perimeter burden that he's been carrying so well during the first month of the season.
Plus, we already know that Anderson and Howard can play well together, since they did exactly that in Orlando.
Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News reports that this is indeed a potential move that keeps coming up:
The name that keeps coming up for the Lakers is Ryan Anderson, the Hornets’ long-distance shooter who was once a Net and later played for three seasons with Howard in Orlando. He’d be perfect. But first, they want to see if Nash can jump-start Gasol.
And Mike D’Antoni’s offense, on the whole.
Of all the potential trades that Kupchak could pull off, this one contains the best mix of realism and benefit for the Lakers.
Trade for Andrea Bargnani
This former No. 1 pick would also be a tremendous option for the Lakers, even if he doesn't bring the same level of physicality that Anderson carries with him to the table. Andrea Bargnani is another terrific example of a stretch-4, the ideal power forward in D'Antoni's system.
The relationship between Toronto Raptors fans and Bargnani has started to sour, as the future of the team doesn't seem to include the Italian big man. Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross all offer plenty of hope for a Bargnani-less future.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Lakers could most definitely use a little more Bargnani in their lives.
L.A. would also have to take on Jose Calderon's massive contract, but that's by no means a bad thing either. The backup point guard would be a serious upgrade over Darius Morris and Steve Blake during the 2012-13 season, and it's not like the Lakers are ever that hesitant to take on an extra financial burden.
Something that Hasn't Developed Yet
Other than Anderson and Bargnani, there just aren't any realistic scenarios out there right now.
Josh Smith would be a tremendous fit in an up-tempo offense, but there's a minuscule chance of the Atlanta Hawks parting with Smoove for Pau Gasol. It's going to take a lot more than that to get the versatile defensive ace, and the fiscally minded Danny Ferry doesn't need to ruin his unloading process for next summer by taking on the Spaniard's contract.
There has also been some speculation about a move for Amar'e Stoudemire, but it's one that the New York Knicks have shown no interest in making. L.A. and N.Y. haven't had any contact about any such move.
Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD has shot down any Amar'e-for-Pau rumor:
Some have speculated about a Gasol-to-New-York deal for Amar’e Stoudemire, which both Knicks and Lakers sources have said is highly unlikely. Gasol might actually fit better in New York, but the Lakers are not interested in the Stoudemire contract, which is worse than the Gasol deal.
Of course, things could look different at any point in a perennially changing NBA landscape, but for now, it's Anderson, Bargnani or some tinkering with an unchanged lineup.