Pau Gasol will be involved in trade rumors for three reasons:
- He’s a Los Angeles Laker.
- The Lakers will probably not make the playoffs.
- He makes a lot of money.
Being a Laker automatically means you’re going to get a zillion times more media attention than a player on a typical team.
The Lakers are easily the most popular team in the NBA. Over the last dozen years, they’ve led the NBA in road attendance in all but three seasons and finished a narrow second the other three.
Their popularity means they get coverage, and if they’re not winning, covering them means speculating about trades.
Realistically, the Lakers are not going to be competitive this year. That means lots of talk about whom they can trade.
Pau Gasol is the easiest player to discuss as a trade chip. He makes a lot of money, and he has a history of All-Star games and championships.
Here’s the problem, though. He makes too much money, and all that history is just that—history. He’s a 33-year-old center who averaged 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds last year. He shot .466 from the field. He doesn’t play great defense. He’s not worth what he makes.
Now, that’s not to say that he’s a bad player or that he didn’t suffer from a roster in constant disarray, coached by an inept coach, hired by even more inept management. All of that is true.
But Gasol’s on the last year of his contract, and he'll make $20 million in that last year. What team is going to send over $20 million worth of players to get 14 and nine? Sure, maybe he’s still capable of getting 18 and 10, but is that worth giving up $20 million of salary and young assets?
Chris Sheridan (being serious) sets the hypothetical asking price for Pau Gasol.
(The Chicago Bulls) have the goods to get Pau Gasol. It’ll cost them the No. 1 pick the Bobcats owe them, plus another No. 1, plus the rights to Nikola Mirotic, plus a couple guys to make the money match. But with Gasol, they can beat anybody.
To “make the money match” would require Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich, which, according to the ESPN Trade Machine, would make the Lakers one game better and the Bulls one game worse. So, according to Sheridan, the Bulls should send at least three young assets, and get, in return, the chance to be worse.
All that for a player who is getting paid a third of the cap this year and could retire or walk at the end of the season.
This sort of unrealistic thinking will drive the Lakers fanbase and media (and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference) for a third consecutive year, as they float one ridiculous Gasol trade after another—none with any chance of happening.