Lakers Should Honor Steve Nash's Wish to Play with Pau Gasol

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

FRESNO, CA - OCTOBER 07:  Pau Gasol #16 (L) and Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk on the bench during the second half of the game with the Golden State Warriors at Save Mart Center At Fresno State on October 7, 2012 in Fresno, California.  The Warriors won 110-83.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Pau Gasol is a frequent whipping boy whenever the Los Angeles Lakers hit a rough patch, and that's never been more clear than it is now.

Very few people can be found in Gasol's corner, but one very important person appears to be by his side.

According to NBC correspondent Ric Bucher, Steve Nash came to Los Angeles on the premise that he would be playing next to the constantly criticized power forward:

Source: Ignore any and all trade talk about Pau Gasol because the Lakers landed Steve Nash by promising him he would get to play with Gasol. Nash made it a prerequisite for passing on offers from Toronto and the Knicks that Pau would be around, the source said.

As Bucher goes on to mention, promises and demands like this don't happen very often. He mentions Chris Paul wanting to have DeAndre Jordan on board with the Clippers, but that's as far as it goes.

The Lakers would be unwise to ignore Nash's wishes. This isn't about letting the inmates run the asylum; it's about creating some semblance of team unity in the midst of a nasty situation.

Bucher echoes that by saying: of the enticements that brought Nash to LA was the big Spaniard and the organization would have much bigger problems than they already have if they backtracked on their promise to keep Gasol in the fold.

Gasol may not fit D'Antoni's system perfectly, but he's not the Lakers' biggest problem like many of his detractors make him out to be. Los Angeles has no bench. Kobe Bryant shoots to excess and fails to get anyone else involved, and Dwight Howard has brought "Hack-a-Shaq" back in style.

Those are all much larger problems, and angering Nash would add another issue to that list.

Rumors surrounding Gasol's future aren't going to go away.

Sheridan Hoops writer Jabari Davis mentions that the Lakers like New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson as their No. 1 target. There's also the Amar'e Stoudemire-for-Gasol notion that still gets mentioned from time to time, but Bucher makes a great point on that one:

For those who keep bringing up, well, what if they dealt Pau for Amare. Stop. Nash could've played w/Amare. He wants to play w/Pau.

— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) December 5, 2012

If the Lakers don't honor Nash's wishes, at least until he sees that it isn't going to work, they risk disrespecting their star point guard. In a situation like that, it's hard to see Nash being very receptive and playing well.

Gasol is a talented player. He's always going to hear that he's soft and doesn't play well in crucial moments, but many other teams would be very excited to add him to their rotation.

Maybe Nash comes back and Gasol still struggles. If that happens, moving Gasol should be taken seriously.

Until then, though, Los Angeles has to give it a chance. Failing to do so could make a tense locker room even worse and a talented guard wonder if he made the right decision in the first place.