Pau Gasol admittedly hasn't been himself this season, but trading him is not the correctsolution for the ailing Los Angeles Lakers. The fact is, the organization's problems are much more complicated than any one personnel move can fix.
Gasol's numbers this year—12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in an average of 33.5 minutes a night—are not worthy of his two-year contract worth $38.285 million. It is certainly fair to call his performance thus far a disappointment.
He has missed time with a concussion, more time with knee tendinitis and was even reduced to a reserve role in L.A.'s most recent game against Memphis. I personally disagree with the notion that Gasol is more valuable off the bench, and Grantland's Bill Simmons believes the same.
Remember when Team USA was double-teaming Earl Clark in the 2012 Gold Medal game and still couldn't stop him? Oh wait that was Pau Gasol.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 22, 2013
Having said that, the Lakers are a team looking for answers, and Pau has been the most vulnerable target of criticism and blame.
Here are three reasons why a potential Gasol deal wouldn't get Los Angeles anywhere new or exciting.
Despite being called "soft" at times, Gasol is currently the best backup center option the Lakers have to Dwight Howard. And last time I checked, Dwight Howard isn't healthy.
Re-aggravated shoulder aside, Dwight hasn't looked fully healthy at any point this season. His explosiveness has been sub-standard, and he still seems to be recovering a bit from offseason back surgery.
If the Lakers hope to eventually regain the real Dwight for the long term—which may be in more serious jeopardy than anyone originally perceived—they need to get him healthy in a year in which they can afford it.
Name a big man that the Lakers could acquire to fill in behind Dwight who will perform better than Gasol in legitimate minutes. Even with sore knees, a coach who has no confidence in him and the weight of Laker Nation crushing down on him, Gasol is as good a reserve center as exists in the NBA.
Hopefully D'Antoni comes to his senses and returns Gasol to the starting lineup.
One of the Lakers' problems is that everyone is pointing fingers. Whether it is Coach D'Antoni and Mitch Kupchak asking the players for more effort, Dwight blaming the coaches for the game plan or Kobe blaming himself, the Lakers have spent more time trying to figure out who is screwing up rather than trying to fix it.
Should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol?
In my opinion—as I outlined in a piece about Jim Buss—this type of issue starts and ends with LA's leadership. Leadership starts at the top of the organization, and this season, it has been atrocious.
Moving Pau Gasol—who is a consummate professional, hard worker and good teammate—will not in any way resolve the Lakers' leadership issues.
If anything, Pau is tied with Steve Nash among Lakers stars with the smallest egos. He wants to win as badly as anyone and has already helped lead the Lakers to two NBA championships.
This team's problems are bigger than any one player. Running a good person like Gasol out of town will only continue a trend of confusing management decisions and fail to provide any relief for the locker room drama.
I agree with the notion that Pau does not fit into Coach D'Antoni's system. I also agree that most of the Lakers roster is not a good fit for Mike D's system.
D'Antoni wants his players to run, highlighting the importance of transition buckets and perimeter shooting. With a starting lineup that has an average age well over 30—32.6 with Dwight, Nash, Kobe, Metta and Pau—it doesn't take a sharp basketball mind to predict that speed, athleticism and energy will be at a premium.
The Lakers are 17-25 and looking to turn things around. Clearly the system has not worked so far, and the Lakers do not have much time before they'll be fully excluded from the playoff picture.
Gasol is the type of player that can help reform a failing offensive strategy. He is a great interior scorer with a soft touch around the rim, can find open teammates with his adept passing skills and can space the floor well enough with his solid mid-range jumper.
Although he doesn't fit in with what the Lakers are trying to do now, he fits a mold that could help them have more success.
What this team needs is to slow down and execute better in half-court sets, which falls a lot on D'Antoni to institute. If Coach D eventually shows some flexibility, Gasol could become one of the best assets in the Lakers' arsenal.
For that reason, GM Mitch Kupchak should carefully evaluate whether dishing his big man due to popular demand is such a good idea after all.