Many are blaming Mike D'Antoni for submarining Pau Gasol's trade value. That's a far cry from before this season, when Lakers fans were excited about what Dwight Howard and Gasol would mean as a tandem. Now, the focus is less on winning and more on getting something in return for Gasol and his onerous two-year, more than $38 million contract.
Gasol has fallen so far in the eyes of Lakers fans that it can seem almost as though he never helped them in the first place. Due to that sentiment, hoops impresario Nate Jones took to Twitter and reminded Lakers fans of the good old days.
Some argue that Gasol should have won the 2010 Finals MVP, and while I'm not sure if I agree with that assessment, the discussion speaks to his former impact and status. Gasol was at his best when Lamar Odom could be a bridge between Gasol and Andrew Bynum. After Odom left, Gasol's game slowly started to erode.
Last year, Gasol had his worst true shooting season since 2003-04, back when the Detroit Pistons won a championship. That number will probably be undercut by this season, a year in which Pau Gasol has been miserable from the field.
Gasol is claiming a true shooting mark of under 50 percent. He can complain about being benched for Earl Clark, but his play isn't exactly providing a loud counterargument to D'Antoni's decision. The consensus is that D'Antoni ruined Pau's trade value, but I doubt it'd be much higher before the benching.
The Lakers can count on at least one NBA team being desperate, though. If the pervasive narrative is that D'Antoni has ruined Gasol, then perhaps a team might buy such logic. Also, you can bet on this narrative being pervasive, because it's getting espoused by America's most popular sportswriter:
I'm embarrassed I thought Mike D would be a good coach for LA. One of my worst predictions ever. He handled Pau like a JV high school coach.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 22, 2013
This might be partially true. Gasol is a center, and the Lakers have forced him to be something other than that. A few teams in the league are size-starved and might want to roll the dice on L.A.'s big man succeeding in a different role.
The Milwaukee Bucks, for example, have a few athletic defenders and three-point shooters to throw in L.A.'s direction. It's possible that a deal surrounding Samuel Dalembert's expiring contract and Ersan Ilyasova could work. Perhaps a deal involving Mike Dunleavy might do the trick.
Many have wanted to see Al Horford paired with a bigger player. Josh Smith is having such a frustrating season that the Hawks may well try unloading his expiring contract in pursuit of Gasol. The Lakers would not be getting a great shooter in the deal, but at least they would defend better.
There was talk of swapping Gasol for Ryan Anderson and some role players. That has ceased since Anderson has proven himself to be a much more coveted asset.
That's the story with Gasol right now. The Lakers would like to trade him for a stretch 4, a big guy who can shoot from deep while guarding his own position. The problem is that such players are so valuable that nobody wants to trade them for Pau and his more-than-$18-million-a-year deal.
The only way that the Lakers can see their way out of this is to take a risk on role players like Ilyasova or on frustrating talent-squanderers like Josh Smith. In short, with how his year has gone, Gasol cannot be traded for any guarantee of fair value.