Once trade rumors began to swirl around the struggling and now injured Gasol, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before he was shipped out in favor of an altruistic stretch forward.
The Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves have both recently tried to engage the Lakers in trade discussions for Gasol, sources told ESPN.com, but the Lakers continue to tell teams that call that they will not consider dealing the Spaniard until L.A. can fully assess its roster after the return of injured point guard Steve Nash.
More important than Los Angeles refusing to trade Gasol at the moment, though, is why they are refusing to trade him.
Why are the Lakers actively refusing to shop the one piece that many believe to be a poor fit for Hollywood's complex puzzle? Why do they insist upon retaining the big man for now? Do Mitch Kupchak and company honestly have that much faith that the Spaniard will turn his season around?
Or does someone else?
And here, we have the "why."
There's a reason that the Lakers are so hellbent on waiting until Nash returns before they make any drastic decisions. Los Angeles is hoping that Nash's presence will rejuvenate Gasol's game and render him more than useless.
Not because the Lakers believe in Gasol or even necessarily Nash, but because they have no other choice.
According NBC Sports' Ric Bucher, Nash came to Los Angeles under the preference and subsequent impression that he would be playing alongside Gasol:
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.
And with that, all speculation regarding Gasol's immediate future can be put to bed—for now.
It's not just that the Lakers made a "promise" to Nash. The NBA is a business, and promises are broken all the time to fulfill a championship vision. What truly matters here is how important Nash now is to Los Angeles.
The Lakers are no longer a team running the Triangle or Princeton offense. No longer is this team operating within a system that renders a point guard a luxury, not a necessity.
Remember, Los Angeles is now headed by Mike D'Antoni, whose seven-seconds-or-less system is predicated upon the presence of a decisive point guard.
On a roster devoid of Jeremy Lins, that makes Nash irreplaceable. Knowing that, are the Lakers about to go against the wishes of the man they hope is their equivalent of a knight in radiantly colored athletic shorts?
But what if it entails bringing in Amar'e Stoudemire, the athletic power forward whom Nash transformed into an All-Star? He'd allow for Gasol to be traded then, right?
Financial suicide aside, no, he wouldn't. Again, Nash had the opportunity to head to the New York Knicks. He had the chance to take his talents to the Big Apple, where the hot dogs are soggy, the streets are crowded and Stoudemire himself roams the injured list.
But he chose the Lakers. He chose Gasol.
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
Unless Nash indicates otherwise or Los Angeles has a thirst for further controversy, it will stand pat. As long as Nash is in Gasol's corner, the Lakers won't be severing any ties. Structurally, they can't afford to.
At the same time, however, Nash's support is not unconditional. I highly doubt if Gasol proves to be an offensive liability with him in the lineup he'll stand by the tendinitis-ridden forward.
Yet who's to say that Gasol will continue to wallow in ineptitude with Nash in the lineup? As Bucher went on to note, Chris Paul made the same request with regards to the towering DeAndre Jordan. He wanted the big man to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers if he was to take his offensive prowess to La-La Land's red-jerseyed stepchild.
The Clippers eventually heeded his request, and it paid off. Jordan is now averaging a career-high 10.2 points per game and is no longer an offensive liability.
Why should it be any different for an equally gifted point guard like Nash and an even more prolific scoring big in Gasol?
If we're to be believe Nash, there will be no difference. He'll return to the lineup (perhaps at the same time as Gasol), and everything will be solved.
Just a thought: if the Lakers want to hit the re-set button - or appear to - bringing Pau and Nash back together makes a lot of sense.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) December 5, 2012
Instead of worrying about his security within Tinseltown, Gasol will be getting a majority of his looks at the rim, where he is converting on 67.3 percent of his attempts. He won't be taking 55.9 percent of his shots outside the paint like he currently is, nor will he be shooting a career-worst 42 percent from the floor.
Nash's presence will change everything. He believes he can make this work.
But we don't have to believe Nash. We're free to draw our own premature conclusions and allow ourselves to become immersed in facetious banter and conjecture.
Yet all speculation is ultimately worthless, because unlike us, the Lakers are not free to draw their own conclusions. They do not have control over Gasol's destiny at the moment.
And as long as Nash is willing to defend Gasol, and the Lakers are smart enough to listen, he isn't going anywhere. Not Toronto, not Minnesota, not even New Orleans.
For now, Gasol remains a member of the Lakers.
Because Steve Nash said so.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 5th, 2012.
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