The Lakers know they can engage in trade talks without having to actually trade, right?
This is a savvy franchise that has executed some of the biggest and shrewdest trades in the history of the NBA, and current GM Mitch Kupchack has overseen plenty of them. Surely they understand that premise.
So how do we explain this report by ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne where they state:
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 easy way to explain this would be to say the report is bogus, but Stein and Shelburne are respected and connected journalists. The only way this report is bogus is if their sources are forking over inaccurate information, but that doesn't make any sense either.
This is not the kind of thing a club would plant in the media to try and drive up the price of a player. The only thing this report is doing is letting teams know that Gasol is currently unavailable. Well that and the fact the Lakers are being foolish.
There is no harm in listening to trade talks. Ever.
What if the Timberwolves were calling to offer Kevin Love for Gasol? I highly doubt that was the case, but still, the point remains that there are players out there that the Lakers should not hesitate to trade Gasol for whether they know what he'll look like when Nash returns or not.
Also, the reality of the situation is that the Lakers should have begun shopping the tall Spaniard as soon as they decided Mike D'Antoni was going to take over as coach.
With Dwight Howard playing center, Gasol is not a good fit for D'Antoni's fast-paced offense. The Lakers could use a power forward who can run the floor and also spread out the defense by having a deft outside touch.
That is not Gasol's game. He is a polished post presence. He has good moves, passing and rebounding.
These skills will all be more valuable in another system and every team in the league knows that.
So the Lakers should most definitely be listening to offers for Gasol and then they should take the best one they get.