As a General Manager, there's nothing more important than recognizing the value of an asset—knowing what a particular player is worth, both to your team and to others.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, their $19 million a year asset is depreciating.
He's at a significant point of the Bell Curve in terms of his career. Like most, you start at a gradual ascent, get better and better, then eventually reach your peak and slowly decline. For the most part, the age of 32 falls on the right side of the curve, at the top of the descent.
That's where Pau Gasol is right now. Or at least that's what the perception is, which is the only thing that matters. Perception is everything in the trade market.
When looking to sell, it doesn't matter whether you're product is top quality or bottom shelf. If your potential buyer thinks it's crap—it's crap.
The NBA trade market is no different than the real world market.
Someone isn't going to buy a used car for the same price of its original value after knowing it hasn't been running smoothly and it occasionally breaks down.
Gasol is on the wrong side of 30, he's missing games because of knee tendinitis and he's having the worst regular season of his career. And this is after averaging 13 points in the playoffs in 2011 and 12 points in the playoffs in 2012.
That type of production, along with the wear and tear to go with it, isn't worth the value of a $19 million a year contract.
So what will teams be willing to offer? Or more importantly, who will be interested?
How about the Kings, who have a guy like Tyreke Evans in a contract year and could use a veteran presence?
Or a team like the Timberwolves, who aren't necessarily looking to win a championship but rather make that push into the playoffs. With a lot of young, undeveloped players like Derrick Williams and Alexey Shved, they could be a potential trade partner, although a third team is probably needed.
Josh Smith would be a likely target, but in the prime of his career, he packs more value than Pau Gasol. Who would have seen that coming a few years ago?
If the Lakers are looking to move Gasol, they probably should have done it already. His value is lower now than it was two weeks ago when it was lower than what it was to start the year.
Unfortunately, he's not a Mickey Mantle rookie card. His value isn't going to increase the longer he's out of the game.
It's possible the Lakers are waiting for him to come back, play a few good games and show everyone he's the same guy he was his whole career—an All-Star caliber, NBA-champion.
But at this point it might be too late. I'm not sure all the shiny paint in the world could make Gasol look brand new again.
It appears that if the Lakers want to trade Gasol, they're going to have to do it for less than equal value. Although depending on your perception, young unestablished prospects might be the more valuable end of the deal.