Pau Gasol hasn't played up to his standards so far this season, and that's a huge underestimate. The popular belief is that Gasol is declining. But is that really true? How is it possible that the player who dominated Team USA in the London Olympics three months before the season started is suddenly "old" and "slow"?
The answer is that it's not possible. Gasol is clearly not being utilized correctly. He may have suffered through some knee tendinitis earlier in the season, but he's healthy now and his play still hasn't improved.
When Gasol's role on the Lakers' is to shoot threes, there's something wrong with the system, not him. It's even worse when everyone is surprised when he actually makes one. Watching him coast around the three-point line ready to fire a triple like Ryan Anderson makes me cry a little on the inside.
Although Kobe Bryant has made it clear that Pau Gasol won't be traded as long as he's still there, you can't help but wonder if the Lakers' management would stick with the same players if this is still a sub .500 team.
Gasol isn't playing anywhere close to the level he was last season, yet he is the only valuable trade piece that the Lakers are willing to give up.
This trade significantly benefits both the Lakers and the Rockets. Whether he admits it or not, Gasol obviously has had a difficult time adjusting to his role in Mike D'Antoni's offense. The truth is he's not a stretch four. He's a traditional back to the basket seven-footer who has the court vision of a point guard.
The Rockets are doing well, but it's unlikely that they can compete for a championship with the current roster they have and they're in need of a dominant low-post scoring threat. Gasol is the perfect match. Not only can he crash the boards as successful as Omer Asik, but he can also provide a dominant offensive presence to take the burden off of James Harden.
Carlos Delfino and Patrick Patterson are two stretch players who can help spread the floor for the Lakers. Delfino has lit it up from three point land in numerous games this season, and Patterson is a quick four with a pretty mid-range jumper and decent three point shot. Both players would fit exceptionally well in D'Antoni's offense.
Trading an underachieving big man for another underachieving big man is actually quite funny. Carlos Boozer hasn't lived up to his expectations after signing his big contract two season ago and most likely never will.
Boozer's contract expires at the same time as the one Steve Nash signed this off season, so it's possible that the Lakers won't be going into a full rebuild until Nash's retirement.
Through approximately thirty games this season, Boozer hasn't played any worse than Gasol. He actually has a higher defensive win shares rating than Gasol so far this season, but the Lakers' perimeter defense is still a problem that Boozer will not help them in.
By acquiring Daequan Cook and reacquiring Vladimir Radmanovic, the Lakers will receive two quality shooters. Cook is a former three-point shootout champion and Radmanovic has shot over 40 percent from beyond the arch four times in his career.
Andrea Bargnani may be one of the softest players in the league, but his shooting ability instantly makes him a better fit on the Lakers than Gasol. Whether the trade rumors are true or not, the fact is that the Raptors have been winning more games when Bargnani is out than when he was playing. When he recovers from his elbow injury and plays a few games, he will most definitely be on the trading block.
The Raptors are in full-fledged rebuild mode and have a handful of quality young players like Ed Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields and Jonas Valanciunas. If Gasol is on the Raptors, they will finally have a real veteran with vast playoff experience and multiple championships to provide leadership and knowledge. Morris is also a young, athletic point guard who will learn a lot from Kyle Lowry, one of the better point guards in the league.
Calderon is a quality veteran point guard with a high basketball IQ and has been in the top three in assist-turnover ratio the past five seasons.
With Calderon coming off of the bench to run the show, Nash can keep his legs fresh until playoff time (that is, if the Lakers actually make them this year). His contract will expire at the end of the season, but if the Lakers make a good run in the playoffs, look to Calderon being re-signed for next season as well.
Gasol had great on-court chemistry with Andrew Bynum last season, which was overshadowed by his shortcomings in the playoffs and Bynum's knee issues this season. Reuniting the two seven-footers could provide a spark for the 76ers and a push to the playoffs as Bynum is steadily getting healthy to return back to the court.
On the other hand, the Lakers get two capable wing shooters and capable defenders in Jason Richardson and Dorrell Wright, who would both help the Lakers' perimeter defense.
Richardson has previously played with Nash on a very good Suns team in the 2009-2010 campaign, and Wright should be a good fit for D'Antoni's offense because of his experience playing on an up-tempo Warriors team for two seasons.
Hawes won't help the Lakers much on defense, but he is a good shooter for his size and might be a building block or trade piece for them in the future.