5 Teams That Would Be Ideal Fits for Pau Gasol
Sure, the team was reportedly rejecting trade offers for the big man and yes, he does have Steve Nash in his corner, but in the Land of Make Believe, realities change by the day. Just ask Phil Jackson. Or Gasol himself.
We can be sure that the Lakers won't make any brash moves until Nash returns, and Gasol is given the opportunity to play alongside him.
If Los Angeles fails to right its ever-growing list of wrongs, Gasol will undoubtedly find his way onto the chopping block.
And while the Lakers have their list of preferred trade partners and coveted targets, their preference means little. What matters is who comes calling should he become available.
Career offsetting season and all, Gasol will still be considered a prime piece of real estate; he will undoubtedly garner plenty of interest from a number teams.
Which teams those are and where Gasol fits bests remains to be fully seen.
But that doesn't mean they can't be seen at all.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 12, 2012.
5. Indiana Pacers
Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports
Go with me on this one.
I understand the Indiana Pacers already have Roy Hibbert and David West. But I also understand that Hibbert has been playing poorly, and West is a free agent after this season.
Indiana's meager posting of 36.8 points per game in the paint (27th in the league), and 91 points (29th) per bout overall, are sure indications the team could use Gasol.
While one of either West, Hibbert or Gasol would have to come off the bench, this still makes sense. The Pacers need the offense that Hibbert has failed to provide and could also use Gasol's superior court vision as well.
Does Indiana have the necessary pieces to trade, though?
In short, yes.
Though general manager Kevin Pritchard essentially refuted that Danny Granger would be available, would the Pacers be willing to change their stance if Gasol were involved?
Better yet, would the Lakers ignore his injury and welcome the versatile offensive presence of Granger into their rotation?
An intriguing scenario for sure.
4. Chicago Bulls
USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Rose is bound to return sometime, and he could certainly use one of the best pick-and-roll partners in the league in Gasol. Not to mention he endorsed such a move less than a year ago.
It also doesn't hurt that the Bulls are scoring just 38 points in the paint (23rd in the league) per game and 94 points (24th) overall. Gasol would inject an added offensive punch that neither Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah can provide.
Speaking of Noah, Gasol is no stranger to operating alongside legitimate centers, so that's not a problem.
Prying Gasol away from the Lakers, however, is.
Carlos Boozer is not going to get it done. He'd be the opposite of getting done.
Luol Deng, though, might. The Bulls already shopped him once this year, and after working him to the bone thus far (41.5 minutes per game), they may be open to doing it again.
The small forward would provide Los Angeles with a great defender, and someone who has more range than Gasol—perfect for playing the part of an undersized four in Mike D'Antoni's system.
Would the Bulls be willing to hang onto Boozer, though?
Unlikely, but if their plan is to amnesty him this summer or they can find a third team to take him off their hands, this becomes a legitimate possibility.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports
First, allow me to explain.
That said, it doesn't mean Minnesota won't make a play for the forward.
Love has developed into a dangerous stretch forward, the type of player who can spread the floor and allow Gasol to operate on his own in the paint whenever he pleases. Toss in the crafty pick-and-roll stylings of Ricky Rubio, and the fact that Minnesota is in the bottom-half of the NBA in points scored in the paint per game, and you have a perfect match.
But can it happen?
Derrick Williams wasn't enough over the summer, and he's not going to be enough for the Lakers now. Plus, making salaries work will be a headache. Gasol is earning $19 million this season while no one on Minnesota's docket (aside from Love) takes home more than $10 million annually.
Unless the Lakers are tempted by the talents of Chase Budinger and Luke Ridnour, along with Williams and others, a third or fourth team may have to get involved to make this tactically feasible.
As long as the end result consists of Gasol landing in Minny, it makes plenty of sense for the Timberwolves to chase Los Angeles' tower.
2. Sacramento Kings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Let's be honest, the Sacramento Kings need a change. So why not start with Pau Gasol?
DeMarcus Cousins—when he's not busy being suspended—is a stud, and Thomas Robinson has plenty of prowess, but the Kings need a savvy veteran who knows how to win. And Gasol knows how to win.
Sacramento scores just 94 points (22nd in the league), and grabs merely 41.5 rebounds (20th) per game. Gasol can help out in both departments.
Obviously, Pau may not fit into the youth movement the Kings have embraced thus far, but he has just two years left on his deal, and Robinson is already riding the pine.
Plus, could you imagine two of the best passing bigs in Cousins and Gasol playing alongside each other on a daily basis? Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks would have a field day—everyday.
Is it feasible, though? Would the Lakers deal Gasol to a division rival? Would the Kings be willing to find a third or fourth team to take one of its many other underwhelming bigs off their hands?
I would say so—if the deal was right.
The Lakers are in need of some shooters and Tyreke Evans—who has improved his distance shooting plenty this season—and Jimmer Fredette (37.5 percent from three-point range) fit that bill. Marcus Thornton is unlikely to be off limits either.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported that Sacramento is willing to blow it up if the right deal presents itself.
Acquiring Gasol to add some grounded experience to their tumultuous roster qualifies as just that.
1. Toronto Raptors
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Pau Gasol would be a great fit with the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto is currently scoring just 37.7 points in the paint per game (25th in the league) and are dropping just 95.2 points a contest overall (20th). The Raptors have also been rumored to be one of the suitors already interested in Gasol.
With a roster that was supposedly built to win now, it's hard to chastise Toronto's interest in Gasol. He would provide the Raptors with the most consistent post presence they've seen since Chris Bosh, and also mitigates the inexperience of rookie Jonas Valanciunas.
Acquiring him, however, may prove to be a problem. If the Lakers are smart about it, that is.
Toronto would move Andrea Bargnani in a heartbeat. Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today already reported as much. The near washed out shooting tendencies of the big man, however, are unlikely to get it done.
If the Raptors are truly committed to obtaining Gasol, they could pair Jose Calderon with Ed Davis and Linas Kleiza to make the package more appealing. Bargnani might actually be able to hit some shots if he has a big man compressing defenses like Gasol can.
Toronto could also include Bargnani as well, as long as they are willing to take back a Steve Blake or Chris Duhon, and one other.
Yes, Davis would be a steep price to pay, but we're talking about a former All-Star here. And the Raptors are losing. Badly.
If they wish to contend in the near future, jumping on Gasol's bandwagon wouldn't be a terrible place to start.