It's Officially Time for LA Lakers to Re-Ignite Pau Gasol Trade Talks

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIJanuary 8, 2013

It's officially time for the Los Angeles Lakers to re-ignite the Pau Gasol trade talks.

Thus far in 2012-13, the Los Angeles Lakers are 15-18. This is the latest the Lakers have been below .500 since they were 15-16 on Jan. 3, 2006.

They finished that season at 45-37 and entered the postseason as the seventh seed.

The Lakers' downward spiral continued on January 6, 2013, as L.A. lost 112-105 to the Denver Nuggets. To make matters worst, both Gasol and Dwight Howard suffered injuries.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reports both will miss an indefinite amount of time. Howard has a torn labrum in his right shoulder and Gasol is suffering from a concussion.

This is about the worst possible timing for said injuries to occur.

The Lakers' next game comes at the Houston Rockets, who are 13-6 at home. After Houston, they're at the 27-10 San Antonio Spurs and home for the 26-8 Oklahoma City Thunder.

Per ESPN's Lakers depth chart, those teams will face a starting frontcourt pairing of Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill.

Gasol's injury came after an inadvertent elbow from JaVale McGee. Gasol began to bleed profusely from his seemingly broken nose, thus resulting in his being removed from the game.

We now know that it is a concussion that could keep Gasol out for an extended period of time. The second time this season we've heard such news.

Yet another reason the team is in need of a change of scenery.

The benefit in trading Gasol is the ability to do just that. Even if they do not acquire a superstar in return, there is the chance of landing a better fit.

If the Lakers stand by idly, there is the chance that this team fails to mesh. In other words, Los Angeles MLB fans are getting a taste of something too familiar.

Just as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim failed to do, the Lakers are in danger of missing the postseason.


Defining the Trade Market

In order to trade Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Lakers must first define his market. Upon doing so, they will be able to gauge how well they can build their status as a championship contender via his trade.

Unfortunately, Steve Kyler of reports that the Lakers have been underwhelmed with what they've found.

...the Lakers have surveyed the landscape regarding trades for Gasol and have found the marketplace to be somewhat disappointing.

There are deals for Gasol, but all of them either have the Lakers taking back multiple assets, which they cannot do without eating some contracts or taking on bad financial deals.

If Kyler's report proves to be true, the Lakers are in the right to hold on to Gasol.

With that being said, there is no way around how poor of a fit this offense is for Gasol's world-class abilities. In fact, Mike D'Antoni's style of play is making Gasol look like a washed-up veteran.

Something we all know Gasol is far from being.

For that reason, the Lakers must work some kind of magic to move him or rid themselves of D'Antoni's system. One way or another, something has to be done.

So who should they be targeting?


Athletically Defensive Depth

If there is one glaring weakness in the Los Angeles Lakers' rotation, it's that they are not defensively athletic enough to match up against younger opponents.

Their lack of defensive chemistry aside, the Lakers rank 26th in the NBA in scoring defense. This comes by virtue of their lack of athleticism and poor defensive chemistry.

In turn, the Lakers are allowing opponents to shoot 36.1 percent from beyond the arc. Which brings us to their first major need.

Metta World Peace is in the best physical shape of his Laker career. He's also 33 years old and getting by on his strength and prowess more than his athletic ability.

What the Lakers truly need is a player who can lock down and contain an opponent during one-on-one situations. Someone who can handle the likes of Kevin Durant and the Western Conference athletes.

As hard as that may be to find, the Lake Show must search and execute.

Beyond an athletic wing, the Lakers must provide Dwight Howard with a frontcourt mate who can handle a stretch 4. If they were working a half-court offense this wouldn't be an issue, but their rotations are currently in shambles.

Gasol just isn't the athlete he used to be. Unless the offensive schematics change, his efficiency will not improve.

Not in Los Angeles, that is.


Admitting Temporary Defeat

Whether Pau Gasol gets traded, Mike D'Antoni is fired or the rotation is shifted, something needs to be done. Right now.

In order to make that work, egos must be placed aside and the Lakers must admit temporary defeat.

If there is any franchise that embodies pride, it is the Lakers. From the owner to the bench warmers, every member of this glorious organization is proud enough to believe during the lowest of times.

Unfortunately, it takes an admission of failure to recover.

Gasol is not figuring into coach D'Antoni's offense and there is no other way to go about it. He's posting career-lows in points, rebounds and field-goal percentage.

Not only is he shooting just 41.6 percent from the floor, but this is the first time he hasn't shot at least 50.0 percent since 2004. He made 48.2 percent that season and 50.1 in 2011-12..

Furthermore, Gasol has already attempted 23 three-point field goals. That's the second-most single-season attempts he's had in his career.

That comes in just 25 appearances in 2012-13.

Gasol is playing out of his comfort zone and the results are evidence of such. As the Lakers stand three games below .500, one thing has become unfortunately clear.

If the Lakers aren't willing to change their approach, they must part ways with the man who helped bring them two NBA championships.


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