Gasol is averaging just 12.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this year and is currently dealing with tendonitis in both knees (via Yahoo! Sports). When he has been on the floor for Mike D’Antoni, the veteran has failed to find a comfort zone in the new head coach’s offense.
This has been the engine behind the recent trade rumors. ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported on rumored scenarios regarding Gasol:
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.
According to these reports, L.A.’s three options at this point are trading Gasol to Toronto or Minnesota or holding onto him.
Here is each option ranked from worst to best.
3. Trade with Minnesota Timberwolves
Of the two teams reportedly interested in acquiring Gasol, Minnesota has the least to offer. Stein and Shelburne’s report states that Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic would make up the centerpiece of the Timberwolves package.
Pekovic is a force down low and would be an excellent backup to Dwight Howard, but it is difficult to see how he would fit into D’Antoni’s offense. Neither he nor Howard can score away from the basket, and it is unlikely the two players could share the floor for a substantial amount of time.
Williams’ talent suggests that he would give the Lakers the versatility that their new head coach is looking for, but his production causes concerns. He is averaging just 9.5 points this year while shooting 38.1 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from behind the three-point line.
The Lakers would be trading Gasol for Pekovic, who will also struggle in D’Antoni’s system, and Williams, who is completely unproven.
This deal would not improve the Lakers' roster.
2. Trade with Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have offered up Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza as players to build a deal around, according to Stein and Shelburne. A deal involving Bargnani would make Toronto a much better trade partner than Minnesota.
Bargnani, like Gasol, is a versatile seven-footer. He is a much more dangerous shooter, but is not as effective as a rebounder or distributor.
Of the big men made available by both the Raptors and Wolves, Bargnani is the best fit for D’Antoni and the Lakers, thanks to his ability to catch and shoot.
While Bargnani may be an offensive upgrade, the Lakers are still taking a large risk due to Gasol's vastly superior rebounding and passing. Ultimately, the Raptors stretch forward has not been efficient or reliable enough to justify parting ways with a four-time All-Star.
1. Hold on to Him
Unless an improved offer comes through from one of these parties or another interested team, the Lakers should hold on to Gasol.
D’Antoni has been remarkably successful with Nash running his offense, and it is impossible to truly judge how effective his system will be in L.A. until the two-time MVP is back on the floor.
Until the Lakers know how effective both Nash and Gasol can be under D’Antoni, pulling the trigger on any deal involving the power forward would be the wrong move. He is still a mobile and versatile forward who has the qualities to excel in D’Antoni’s offense.
Until the full Lakers roster has had an opportunity to play together, it would be premature to trade any of the core pieces. Holding on to Gasol still gives L.A. the best chance to win a championship.