If the Lakers decide to trade away struggling big man Pau Gasol, the Minnesota Timberwolves should not be the team that Mitch Kupchack calls first.
In fact, they should be near the bottom of the list when it comes to trade partners.
The Timberwolves have been connected in Gasol rumors before. Now that Gasol has struggled with Mike D'Antoni running the show in Los Angeles, speculation would be that the Timberwolves would be interested. For the time being, Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn has told ESPN that no deal is imminent, and the teams haven't spoke since July.
ESPN's report also speculated that the Timberwolves were working on a package that would be centered around Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic. Kahn may say that the speculation is not true, but this is still a rumor to keep an eye on as the season wears on and the reality of a Gasol trade becomes a more viable option.
For now it appears that the Lakers will be slow to make any moves for Gasol, and that's probably the best approach.
Gasol has struggled to fit in with this rebuilt Lakers roster, but we won't know what the Lakers really look like until Steve Nash is able to return to health and run D'Antoni's system.
Should Nash return and Gasol still struggles to be effective with Dwight Howard in the middle, trading the center will be the Lakers best option. When that day comes, Lakers fans should hope that the team stays away from the Timberwolves as a possible partner.
As speculation indicates, any deal that the Timberwolves would put together would likely be centered around Williams and Pekovic.
When looking to trade someone with the skills and resume of Gasol, the haul should be much better than the two youngsters that the Timberwolves have to offer.
Make no mistake, Pekovic and Williams have great potential. Williams was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He hasn't lived up to expectations thus far, but at 21 years old he has plenty of time to develop and his athleticism is hard to deny. Pekovic is only 26 and is a skilled big man in his own right.
However, the Lakers are in no position to rebuild. They must get immediate value in any deal that they make involving Gasol.
It's important to remember that Gasol still has the tools to be an elite big man if placed in the right situation. The 32-year-old is a four-time All Star, including appearances in every season from 2009-2011, and was a second-team All-NBA selection in 2011.
Obviously his struggles and health will hurt his value in a trade to an extent, but there's no reason to ship him away unless the Lakers can be sure that they are receiving equal value.
Dumping Gasol for two prospects and picks isn't the answer.
This is a team that was built to contend now, and any trade involving Gasol has to be made with that goal in mind.
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