Lakers Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Pau Gasol to Toronto Raptors

Alex KayCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2013

Feb 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol (16) dribbles during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since head coach Mike D’Antoni was hired, Pau Gasol has been the odd man out for the Los Angeles Lakers.

With a few short weeks left until the Feb. 21 trading deadline, there is still a distinct possibility that the organization could attempt to flip the 32-year-old forward and acquire some combination of future value, young talent and cap relief.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, one team that may be interested is the Toronto Raptors—a franchise that just swung for the fences by taking Rudy Gay off the Memphis Grizzlies’ hands via trade.

It’s no secret that GM Bryan Colangelo is shopping former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani, and the Raps president has a number of other decent trade chips in his possession. 

Stein’s sources found that the organization would be willing to open its wallets and go over the luxury-tax threshold for the “right transaction,” which may just happen to be Gasol.

Back in early December, Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported that the Raptors offered Bargnani, Jose Calderon’s expiring contract and veteran Linas Kleiza in exchange for Gasol, but were quickly rebuffed by the Lakers brass.

However, with the Lakers still struggling nearly two months later and far from a lock to make the postseason, there are rumblings that a deal between these two franchises could eventually happen, as per Stein's report.

Unfortunately, Bargnani is suffering from an elbow injury that has kept him sidelined since Dec. 12, and he wasn’t all that effective even when he was in the lineup. The Raptors also lost a major asset when they dealt Calderon’s $10 million expiring deal to the Detroit Pistons as part of the six-player Gay trade.

One thing that could entice Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak into exploring a swap with Toronto is that Gasol is having—by far—his worst season since joining L.A. five years ago. The Spaniard simply isn’t a fit in D’Antoni’s offense—especially not with Dwight Howard playing the pivot role while Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant try to find a balance as primary facilitators.

A change of scenery could be good for all parties. But it will take a “Godfather” offer by the Raptors to pry the 11-year veteran away from Los Angeles at the deadline.

After watching Colangelo spring for Gay, we couldn’t say it would be surprising to see him pull off another blockbuster for Gasol.