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February 1, 2008: The Los Angeles Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, a 2008 1st round draft pick (Donte Greene) and a 2010 1st round draft pick (Greivis Vasquez) to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol and a 2010 2nd round draft pick (Devin Ebanks).
The Los Angeles Lakers walked away with a three-time All-Star, three straight Finals appearances and back-to-back titles (2008 and 2009) thanks to this trade.
After Shaquille O’Neal split in 2004, the Lakers were desperate to find a talented big man to pair with Kobe Bryant. Since O’Neal’s departure, L.A. failed to make the playoffs once and was bounced out of the first round twice.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak summed up the thinking behind the Gasol trade for NBA.com:
“Pau is a proven player of All-Star caliber in this league who can score and rebound and he’s still a young player. We feel this move strengthens our team in the short term as well as the long term.”
Clearly, Kupchak was correct about the short-term. Lately, though, Gasol has been rumored to be on the trade block once again.
The Lakers snatched Pau at the peak of his career. He had just put up two 20-PPG seasons in a row for Memphis, which where his best offensive numbers yet at that point in his career.
The Grizzlies had shown promise in the standings between 2003-04 and 2005-06, but were met with multiple first-round exits. Perhaps their lowest point came in 2006-07, when they finished 22-60.
They needed to do something. But this?
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported what everyone was thinking:
Around the league, nothing will change this belief: Whatever the reasoning, this was one of the NBA’s worst trades in years.
Still, Pau was tanking it in Memphis and wanted out. The Grizzlies were forced into rebuilding mode and were looking to save some cap space. As a result, Pau was told to pack.
This season though, it looks like the tables have turned. It’s Marc Gasol’s Grizzlies that have come along the past three years and now are holding onto the West’s current No. 4 seed.
The Lakers, on the other hand, are currently outside the 2013 playoff picture and under .500.