Ricky Rubio Says Pau Gasol Is 'More Than Welcome' on the Minnesota Timberwolves

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 29:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves greet before the start of play at Staples Center on February 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Pau Gasol may not be the most popular man on the Los Angeles Lakers this season, but he has one great fan in the Midwest. According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has stated that the Spanish seven-footer is "more than welcome" to join him as a teammate on the floors of the Target Center.

"[Gasol] proved to the league he is one of the best," Rubio told reporters in Minneapolis. "He can pass. He can shoot. He can rebound. He can do a lot of things. I think if you use him in the right way, he is a top player in this league. If they don't want him, we are more than welcome to get him."

Though acquiring Gasol would cost 'Wolves GM David Kahn a pretty penny, having a veteran with Gasol's championship experience could definitely be a great benefit to a squad as young as Minnesota. The team entered 2012-13 with such high expectations, only to see them derailed thanks to countless injuries.

Seeing as how the Minnesota fans were guaranteed that their team would make the playoffs and with the Timberwolves currently standing 17-25, five games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a spark is needed. Gasol can be that spark, but Kahn should think long and hard before making a deal.

Not only is Gasol set to earn $19 million this season, but he also carries a price tag of just under $19.3 million for 2013-14. Moreover, the Lakers would likely require a package of Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour, draft picks and possibly Nikola Pekovic in exchange for their power forward's services.

To make the money work out, a third team would definitely need to get involved.

There is also the fact that Gasol is having the worst season of his career after failing to fully adjust to head coach Mike D'Antoni's system. Working as a stretch 4 instead of a low post presence, Gasol is averaging just 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting a career-low 45 percent from the field.

Granted, if Minnesota were able to pull off a trade for him, Gasol would be right back in his element. Minnesota coach Rick Adelman calls on his big men to work the paint more than the perimeter, and Gasol would get the playing time in the low post that he has so desperately desired this season.

The sad truth is that as much as this potential trade may rock the NBA world, it's just not going to happen. The only way the deal makes sense for the Lakers is if they also trade Dwight Howard, and we all know that's not going to happen.

Even if his shoulder injury requires him to have surgery tomorrow and he misses the rest of the season, it's cheaper for the Lakers to just install Gasol at the 5 and take their chances on re-signing Howard this summer.

Moreover, if this trade is to happen, the only possible way it could work for the Lakers is if Pekovic goes to a third team. He is not a stretch 4, as D'Antoni's system requires, and him sharing the court with Howard would cause nothing but absolute chaos up front.

Therein also lies another reason why it's not worth it for the Lakers to make this trade. Pekovic is a restricted free agent who will likely demand a max contract, and that is the only reason why Minnesota is even thinking about dealing him now.

Should the Lakers deal for him, opt not to match an offer he receives and also lose Howard, that leaves GM Mitch Kupchak with a bare-bones frontcourt.

Earl Clark is also set to to hit the open market, and Los Angeles would be sunk if forced to start Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill, though Hill would not be the worst option by any means.

The fact of the matter is that the Lakers trading Gasol to the Minnesota Timberwolves is not worth the money, nor the stress. On Minnesota's end, Kahn is better suited to just match any offer Pekovic receives, as the Gilbert Arenas Rule allows him to do.

Luxury tax be damned, this is a Minnesota team that can do great things when healthy, and to let the opportunity slip away would be a foolish move.

Thus, Lakers fans should prepare themselves for Gasol being in the lineup for the rest of the season. It may be ugly, but it'd certainly beat trading him and resultingly rolling the dice on the team's future.