Fox Sports' Sam Amico hits us with the most recent scuttlebutt on the often-discussed Gasol. Amico reports that one executive out of the Eastern Conference has "heard from the Lakers recently," and that the storied franchise is exploring the possibility of making a "substantial" move before the regular season gets under way.
He also adds, "Apparently, forward Pau Gasol remains far from untouchable."
Of course he's not untouchable! Isn't everyone in the NBA acutely aware of this by now? Do the Lakers just make the rounds periodically, reminding teams that the multitalented Gasol can be had for the right price?
Gasol was already traded from the Lakers once. He famously remained after the trade was vetoed. What in the world has transpired since then that would make anyone think Gasol came off the trade market?
The Lakers have only disappointed on the court and Gasol's stats are dipping in almost every category.
The only realistic change that should be speculated upon when it comes to the Lakers' willingness to trade the 33-year-old Spaniard is what the club is looking for in return.
As you'll recall, the vetoed trade centered around the Lakers landing point guard Chris Paul. The Lakers are still on the hunt for a point guard. At least according to Amico—who went on to say that "It is believed" the Lakers covet a "younger point guard" with a penchant for scoring.
That certainly makes sense. Steve Nash is ancient. He's not capable of handling the full load at the point for the Lakers, and with Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar backing up Nash, it's not like the Lakers should feel they have the point guard of the future on the roster.
However, while their thinking makes sense, it doesn't mean it is realistic.
Amico notes that "...as everyone who deals in the trade market will tell you, that [a younger point guard] won't be so easy to obtain."
Gasol isn't enough for the Lakers to land a player that "won't be so easy to obtain."
To be clear, Gasol remains a supremely effective player. But while struggling with injuries last season, Gasol's numbers dropped drastically. He averaged a career-low 13.7 points per game last year while shooting a career-worst 46.6 field-goal percentage.
However, a big part of the reason his scoring and shooting dropped was due to him playing alongside Dwight Howard and having more of his touches come further away from the basket.
Gasol is still an effective scorer down low and a quality rebounder, and he is perhaps the best passing power forward in the league.
Still, he is 33, he was only able to play in 49 games last season and he is past his prime. This is not the kind of player for whom teams will be willing to ship out a quality point guard with some youth.
The Lakers are going to need Gasol this year to give the them a consistent scoring threat while Kobe Bryant gets back to optimum level following his Achilles injury. And when Bryant does get back into top form, Gasol will give the Lakers a needed inside-scoring punch to help take some of the attention off of Bryant.
Gasol's contract expires at the end of this season, and he is on the books for just over $19 million this season. This makes him a good candidate for any team looking to clear cap space for the coming offseason, but those kind of trades aren't going to net the Lakers the kind of long-term stability at the point the franchise needs.
Los Angeles will have a far better chance of landing that type of player in free agency next offseason, as they have just over $12 million in team salary on the books for next season.
At this point, it is time for the Lakers to give Gasol their full backing, forget about trading him and put their best foot forward for the coming season.