Lakers Rumors: LA Right to Keep Injured Pau Gasol Off Trade Block

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs drives on Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs would win 84-82.  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)
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The Los Angeles Lakers shouldn't make any more rash decisions despite their slow start. Trading Pau Gasol, who's no stranger to rumors even though he's been one of the team's best players over the past five years, would definitely fall into that category.

It appears the front office agrees, at least for the time being. Sources tell Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that two teams have contacted the Lakers with interest in the talented power forward, but they have been told he's not available.

Of course, the Lakers' first rash decision was letting head coach Mike Brown go after just five games. They were 1-4 when they let him go and currently sit at 9-12, showing the quick hook didn't lead to the immediate turnaround they were hoping for.

That's because the Lakers are dealing with so many issues right now.

Normally, the top priority would be get all of the offseason acquisitions on the same page. But that hasn't even been possible because Steve Nash has been out with a leg injury and Dwight Howard is just getting back to full strength after back issues.

Gasol is dealing with injury problems of his own. He's been sidelined for the past four games with knee tendinitis. While Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports Gasol might be available for Tuesday night's game, no final decision has been made.

When you combine the injury woes with Mike D'Antoni working to implement his system, it's no surprise the results have failed to live up to the offseason hype.

It's also why the Lakers are smart to hold onto Gasol. The front office put a lot of work into the roster during the offseason, and there's no reason to break it up yet.

The trade deadline is still more than two months away. Assuming the Lakers suffer no further setbacks in the injury category, they should have a lineup working at full capacity by the time the calendar turns to 2013–at the latest.

Then, and only then, general manager Mitch Kupchak will find out if the team needs another shake up. Doing it before then would be a mistake because the team still has no idea what the roster it currently has in place is capable of.

On paper, the Lakers should be a contender in the Western Conference. The combination of Gasol and Howard in the post should be as good as the league can offer. Nash and Kobe Bryant should be an unstoppable combo once they gain chemistry.

They have to at least give that group a chance. If by mid-February it becomes clear it's not going to work, then it will be time to start getting serious about moving a major piece like Gasol. Doing it now would only add to their problems.

One other factor that drives that point home is Gasol's trade value. He's having one of the worst statistical seasons of his career and is dealing with a knee injury. It's hard to imagine the Lakers getting anywhere close to fair value because of that.

They are better off keeping him for now. His value should go back up over the next two months as the new Lakers finally get settled in, and by then the team should have a better idea of what direction to go.