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.
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:
...one 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.