Lakers Rumors: LA Foolish to Insist on Keeping Pau Gasol

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a call by the officials during a 79-77 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on November 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are making a mistake with Pau Gasol. The worst part is, they don't even seem to realize it. 

According to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of, the Lakers have turned down at least two trade offers from teams for Gasol. 

The Los Angeles Lakers, largely at the behest of general manager Mitch Kupchak, have rebuffed trade inquiries from at least two teams for Pau Gasol, according to sources with knowledge of the Lakers' thinking.

The Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves have both recently tried to engage the Lakers in trade discussions for Gasol, sources told, 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.

What do the Lakers really stand to gain from keeping Gasol at this point in his career? They won two championships after acquiring him from Memphis, yet they are seeing his value dwindle each time he steps on the court. 

Gasol's offensive output has declined sharply the last two seasons. He went from averaging 18.8 points per game in 2010-11 to 17.4 last season and a meager 12.6 this season. His shooting percentage has gone from 52.9 to 50.1 to 42. His free-throw percentage has dropped nearly seven percent from two years ago (82.3 to 75.9).

Some of Gasol's issues can be blamed on the system the Lakers used under Mike Brown and are attempting to use under Mike D'Antoni. He is an on-the-ball power forward who likes to create his own shot, but has not been asked to do that for two years. 

Even with the Lakers not doing everything to maximize Gasol's value, he is still not doing anything to help the team right now. He is making $38.2 million over the next two seasons (per HoopsHype), which makes him an albatross considering what the Lakers will have to fork out to keep Dwight Howard after this season and, assuming he doesn't retire, Kobe Bryan after 2014. 

The Lakers' problems this season can be directly attributed to a serious lack of depth. They put all their eggs in the basket of four players that if any one of them got hurt and missed time, there was no way they could replace the production. 

Steve Nash's absence has kept us from seeing what, exactly, the Lakers as presently constructed are capable of. But Gasol has shown himself incapable of being the player he once was. 

The player Gasol used to be was worth the salary that he is making over the next two seasons. Whatever it is he happens to be now is not worth half of the money he is being paid.

It is time for them to make the hard choice to deal Gasol. We know, based on the report, they have been made offers for him—offers that could potentially add significant depth to an old, overworked roster—but they refuse to take them. 

If you wait too long to make a move, you are diminishing the chances to make the playoffs. That's not something we ever thought we would say about the Lakers before the season started. It just goes to show how quickly everything can fall apart.