5 Rumored Pau Gasol Trades with No Chance of Happening

Bryan ToporekFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

5 Rumored Pau Gasol Trades with No Chance of Happening

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    Amidst the turmoil in Los Angeles Lakers-land in the first quarter of the 2012-13 season—head coach Mike Brown being fired, the team stumbling out to a sub-.500 record in its first 20 games—forward Pau Gasol has found his name ensconced in trade rumors once more.

    This isn't an uncommon place for Gasol to be over the past couple of years, as fellow NBA Featured Columnist Bryant Knox expertly details.

    Ever since nearly consummating a three-way trade back in December 2011 that would have sent Gasol to Houston in exchange for Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, Gasol's name has been a fixture in NBA trade talk.

    The Lakers have a few major obstacles to overcome if or when they do decide to trade Gasol: his age (32), his contract ($19 million-plus per year through 2013-14) and the recent flare-up of knee tendinitis that's caused him to be sidelined indefinitely.

    He also has a trade kicker on his contract of 15 percent, according to Basketball Reference, which bumps his cap hold up to $21.85 million in 2012-13 if or when he's traded.

    Despite all of those potential holdups, team representatives have reportedly told Gasol's representatives that he'll either need to adjust to coach Mike D'Antoni's system or the team will start fielding offers for him, according to both ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated.

    Let's look at five trades that have made recent headlines, but have absolutely no chance of happening.

    Note: All statistics and records are current through games on Dec. 6.

1. Pau Gasol for Amar'e Stoudemire (New York Knicks)

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    Let's just get this one out of the way first, because it might very well be the most ridiculous trade idea that's been floating out there.

    Both Marc Berman of the New York Post and Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD have brought up the prospective framework of a Pau Gasol-for-Amar'e Stoudemire trade, with both acknowledging that it's highly unlikely based on what they're hearing from both teams' sources.

    Well, duh.

    Why in God's name would the Los Angeles Lakers want to replace one 7-footer with knee troubles and a $19 million/year contract for another? Especially considering Stoudemire's contract lasts one year longer than Gasol's and is completely uninsured?

    Stoudemire hasn't played a single game in the 2012-13 season due to a ruptured cyst behind his left knee. He was originally expected to return by mid-November, but received a second opinion and underwent surgery, now putting his target return date around Christmas.

    The Lakers and New York Knicks each need to wait and see how Gasol and Stoudemire mesh with the rest of their teammates upon their returns to the lineup, respectively, before deciding to fully pursue a trade.

    Even if the Knicks do decide to trade Stoudemire, though, why would they want to replace him with a player openly angling for more touches in the low post? Tyson Chandler isn't leaving the Knicks any time soon, which would leave Gasol right back in the same situation he's in now with Dwight Howard.

    For the record, a straight Gasol-for-Stoudemire trade does work in terms of contracts, according to ESPN.com's trade machine

2. Pau Gasol for Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Hornets)

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    On Dec. 4, Jabari Davis of SheridanHoops.com reported that Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Hornets was on the top of the Los Angeles Lakers' wish list if they end up trading Pau Gasol.

    Gee, LeBron James isn't at the top of their wish list? Because, really, each trade is about as feasible as the other. (That is to say, not even remotely.)

    All of the concerns about Anderson's breakout 2011-12 season with the Orlando Magic being largely fueled by the presence of Dwight Howard have gone out the window after the first quarter of the 2012-13 season.

    After averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game with Orlando on 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.3 percent from three-point range, he's improved across the board in New Orleans, with 18.3 points and eight rebounds per game on 47.8 shooting from the field and 43.5 percent from downtown.

    At 6'10", he'd be the ideal stretch-4 for the Lakers, seeing as he leads the league in both three-point field goals made (57) and attempted (131) thus far in 2012-13.

    There's just one little problem: What incentive do the Hornets have to give up a player like Anderson, a 24-year-old signed to a more-than-reasonable four-year, $34 million contract in the summer of 2012, for a player who's nearly a decade older, dealing with knee tendinitis and twice as expensive per year?

    That's what the Hornets would be getting if they traded for Gasol. They could plug Gasol in as the starting 5, plop Robin Lopez on the bench and give Anthony Davis a championship-winning veteran to start next to in the frontcourt, but Gasol's contract and knee troubles should put an end to any trade talks around Anderson.

    Also, for the record, Anderson can't be traded until Dec. 15 under NBA rules (having just been sign-and-traded in the summer of 2012), and a straight Anderson-for-Gasol swap won't work contractually, given the massive gap in their per-year salaries.

    That means not only would the Hornets have to lose Anderson in the deal; they'd have to give up more just to get Gasol. So... there's that.

3. Pau Gasol for Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic (Minnesota Timberwolves)

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    On Dec. 7, Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves have been trying to build a trade package for Pau Gasol around 2011 No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams and center Nikola Pekovic.

    Right off the bat, a few things about such a trade make little sense for either the Timberwolves or the Los Angeles Lakers.

    For one: Unless the Lakers are already contingency planning for the possibility of Dwight Howard signing a long-term contract elsewhere in the summer of 2013, what good would Pekovic be to them otherwise?

    Gasol's reportedly been unhappy with the limited number of post touches he's received playing next to Howard, but at least he stands a chance of generating a quality offensive look even out on the perimeter. Pekovic takes nearly 70 percent of his shots at the rim for a reason.

    Likewise, what incentive do the Lakers have to take on a reclamation project like Williams, who's already looking like a dreaded positionless tweener? The Lakers need veteran experience to plug into their championship-aspiring lineup, not a second-year player who's hurt his team more than helped in 2012-13, according to 82games.com.

    Meanwhile, the Spanish connection between Gasol and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio may make for some great copy for Minnesota sportswriters, but the trade won't be easy to pull off.

    According to the ESPN.com trade machine, a Gasol-for-Williams-and-Pekovic swap won't work; Minnesota needs to include $6.8 million more in salary to be legal under NBA trade rules. Do the T'Wolves really want to throw in players like Dante Cunningham and Luke Ridnour to make this trade happen?

    If Gasol was five years younger and wasn't plagued with knee troubles, the Timberwolves might have more incentive to bring him over in a trade. Instead, Gasol's age, knees and contract size are all massively prohibitive issues that should shoot this particular trade down immediately.

4. Pau Gasol for Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks)

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    On Dec. 5, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com brought up Atlanta as a possible trade destination for Pau Gasol, with Hawks forward Josh Smith set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013.

    Unlike the three previous trades covered here, a trade package for Gasol structured around Smith isn't outrageously ludicrous for either team.

    If Gasol's recent knee tendinitis proves to be a minor problem and he soon returns to the court healthy, the Hawks could plug him in at the 5 and slide Al Horford over to his more natural position at the 4. (That's a big if, though.)

    With Gasol and Horford, the Hawks would suddenly have the size to wreak havoc on Eastern Conference teams who've embraced Miami's small-ball mentality, especially with Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers and Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks still sidelined by injuries.

    For the Los Angeles Lakers, however, this trade makes a bit less sense. One of Smith's greatest weaknesses on a basketball court is his inexplicable tendency to jack up low-percentage 20-foot jump shots, well known as the least-efficient shot in the game.

    As Berger wrote, Smith would "make Jamal Crawford look like Bob Cousy" in D'Antoni's "shoot-first, ask-questions-never system."

    Just imagine how few games it would take before Dwight Howard starts shoving his giant index finger into the chest of Smith instead of Kobe Bryant for a mental lapse.

    According to the ESPN.com trade machine, a straight-up trade of Gasol and Smith wouldn't work; the Hawks would need to add $2.4 million more to the deal.

    If Atlanta would be willing to part ways with Smith and DeShawn Stevenson for Gasol, it's legal under NBA trade rules, but it's difficult to understand either team's incentive in doing so.

5. Pau Gasol for Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon (Toronto Raptors)

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    Of any of the rumored Pau Gasol deals floating around out there, a deal structured around Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors appears to be the most likely, at least at face value.

    Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported on Dec. 5 that "rival executives believe the most likely landing spot for Gasol is Toronto." Two days later, ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported that Toronto had approached the Los Angeles Lakers with such a trade framework in mind, also reportedly dangling forward Linas Kleiza.

    Swapping Gasol for Calderon and Bargnani works under NBA trade rules, according to the ESPN.com trade machine, but that doesn't mean it makes much sense if for the Los Angeles Lakers if they're truly serious about contending for an NBA championship in the next two seasons.

    The Lakers should rightfully be concerned that Gasol's 32 years old and off to the worst start in his NBA career, but here's a news flash: Bargnani hasn't been much better.

    In fact, according to each player's 2012-13 PER, Gasol's actually been superior to Bargnani through Dec. 6.

    Working in Bargnani's favor are the facts that he's five years younger and has three-point shooting range, although he hasn't shot above 34.5 percent from deep in a season since 2009-10. This season, he's currently shooting 32.2 percent on 4.6 three-point attempts per game for Toronto.

    With Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and eventually Steve Nash all working for touches in the Lakers' offense, the days of Bargnani shooting over 15 times per game would come to a swift and dramatic end.

    Throwing Calderon in the trade helps the Lakers weather the storm until Nash returns from his fractured fibula and backup point guard Steve Blake heals up after abdominal surgery which he underwent Dec. 5. It's expected to keep him out six to eight weeks, according to ESPN.com.

    For the Raptors, if Gasol doesn't like how few post touches he's receiving in Los Angeles, it's tough to imagine him working alongside international rookie Jonas Valanciunas for extended minutes.

    Toronto could hope that the veteran Gasol could take J.V. under his wing and teach him the ropes of being an NBA big man, but going from a championship contender to a lottery-bound team has the potential to leave Gasol disengaged.

    If any of these five trades are going to happen, this is the one I'd be betting on. That said, the Lakers have every reason to wait until Steve Nash comes back before pulling the trigger on a Gasol deal, if this is the best the team can get.