Pau Gasol has been grossly underperforming this year, and the Minnesota Timberwolves were said to be a possible trade destination for the All-Star forward. Timberwolves president David Kahn dispelled those rumors, saying, "There's absolutely nothing imminent that we're working on."
Good, there shouldn't be.
The Timberwolves have no reason to sacrifice their future to obtain the 32-year-old Gasol. Nikola Pekovic is developing into a fine NBA center and is on the cusp of entering his prime, with his 27th birthday just a couple weeks away.
Like many foreign players, Pek entered the league late—he was a 25-year-old rookie in the 2010-11 season. But in his short NBA career, he's shown he has the potential to be at least a top-10 center—if not better.
Pekovic is averaging 13.6 points per game and grabbing 7.1 rebounds per night, and save a lower field goal percentage from last season has played good basketball.
In fact, he has outplayed Gasol.
And he'll continue to do so. Last season, Pek had 11 games with 20-plus points and 16 games with 10-plus boards in just 47 games played in the CBA-shortened season. He also had 16 double-doubles last season, and this year he's posted three so far in the Wolves' 16 games.
There are bigger things in store still for Pekovic, who is surprisingly mobile and coordinated for a player of his size. At 6'11" and 290 pounds, Pek has the bulk to bang with the bigger bodies in the NBA and is the perfect complement to bruiser Kevin Love.
Pek is powerful and physical while Gasol is soft and shies away from contact. Pekovic also led the league in points in the paint per-minute last season, a testament to how good he is around the hoop. He made the biggest improvement in PER in a season in over two decades.
When he got injured, the Timberwolves fell out of contention. It wasn't Rubio's injury that crippled them—it was Pek's.
Love and Pek should be a staple in the Timberwolves frontcourt for seasons to come. Pairing the talented tandem with Ricky Rubio will only further help the Timberwolves develop into a contender.
Trading for Gasol would throw their hopes for immediate contention down the tubes. And even if they did pull the trigger on the trade, it wouldn't make them contenders anyway.
Gasol is averaging a career low in points per game this year, and his consistent three-plus assists per game is more the result of playing on a very talented roster with a lot of passing options and not of his passing skills. Could Gasol average three-plus assists in Minnesota? Unlikely.
Truly, there is nothing that Gasol could bring to the table that Pek doesn't—or that Pek couldn't eventually. He's also signed to a very reasonable $4.8 million contract.
Tell me why obtaining Gasol and his $19-million-a-year contract would improve the Timberwolves, because I just don't see it. He's posting a lower PER, continually declining in production and offers little value that Pek doesn't already bring.
Just bringing in a name isn't a reason to make a trade, and it seems Kahn understands that. Bravo.