According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Lakers brass has been considering trade offers for Gasol for some time with the Spaniard in the final year of his contract.
Gasol’s recent sit-down with Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com about impending free agency—in addition to his notable struggles on both ends of the court—has apparently caused the team’s front office to consider a drastic move.
Gasol's frustrations, impending free agency, struggles offensively & particularly defensively have forced the team to consider its options— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 14, 2013
While the franchise would reportedly like for Gasol to remain in Los Angeles and potentially even re-sign, it can no longer afford to ignore his waning production on the court and what is being said off of it.
Lakers believe Pau can succeed in D'Antoni's system and hope that he does. Sources tell ESPN Lakers are open to re-signing him, even— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 14, 2013
Shelburne and Stein found that while the Lakers have yet to hold any discussions with other clubs in regards to a Gasol deal, that could all change in an instant.
Important note: The Lakers have yet to engage in any Gasol-related trade discussions with other teams, according to sources.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 14, 2013
The 33-year-old is currently playing out the last season of his contract—worth over $19 million for 2013-14—and would be a valuable asset to both contenders and tanking teams.
Gasol made it clear that remaining in L.A. at a discount isn’t his absolute top priority this coming offseason, noting that money and the potential for another championship are just as important as being loyal to the team he has played for since being traded there back in 2008, per Howard-Cooper:
There’s different factors you have to take into account. The financial factor. That I’ve been with this franchise, for what I’ve been through, the loyalty I have to them. And also the chances of winning a championship. Those three are the most. What percentage I will give or prioritize, we’ll see when the opportunities come along. But I would like to first be in a position to win a championship again and enjoy the last few years of my career and be in a good position to do so.
If the Lakers cannot find a way to resurrect Gasol's career and have him play productive basketball under head coach Mike D’Antoni, there are a handful of potential suitors that would make sense to discuss a swap with.
Shelburne and Stein note that the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls are two potential landing spots, as they both possess big men that would help the Lakers compete for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign and into the future. The reporters suggest that Tyson Chandler and Carlos Boozer could be the centerpiece of a deal involving Gasol.
While an important goal is to have cap flexibility for the upcoming offseasons, L.A. could make an exception in order to make a move that could help bring a title either this year or in the near future.
What should the Lakers do?
It is a risky proposition, but unless Gasol shapes up and starts playing better soon, it may be a wise one.
The Lakers aren’t looking like more than a potential speed bump for a true contender to run over on the way to an NBA Finals appearance out of the West, which is exactly why something needs to change. Expect the Gasol rumors to continue gaining steam if the club and power forward continue to play poor basketball.