The Los Angeles Lakers brass is making a wise decision by holding off on dealing Pau Gasol at this juncture.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, the trade talks between L.A. and the Cleveland Cavaliers that would have seen Gasol exchanged for Andrew Bynum have reportedly stalled, largely due to the Lakers insistence that they acquire more assets than just Bynum’s cap-friendly contract.
It’s a smart decision, considering the Cavs still have up until Jan. 7 to flip their petulant center before the guaranteed money in his deal jumps from $6 million to over $12 million.
While acquiring Bynum and cutting him would theoretically put L.A. under the luxury tax threshold for the first time in seven seasons, there is a chance that the team can either improve around Gasol or get more future assets in exchange for his services by the Feb. 20 trade deadline—more than likely the latter.
Windhorst and Shelburne noted that the Cavs wouldn’t budge when the Lakers demanded a first-round draft pick or a talented young prospect on top of Bynum’s non-guaranteed contract and a throw-in player necessary to make the swap legal under the league’s salary cap rules.
If the Cavs get backed into a corner over the next few days and realize that they have no other options other than cutting Bynum and losing him for nothing—or keeping him and overpaying for an injury-prone, poor player—there is a chance they relent on their stance to not package any other valuable assets in with the big man.
It is easy to see why the Lakers would want to add a developmental piece and picks, as they have now lost six games in a row, fallen to 13-19 and seem on the cusp of a full-blown collapse due to the sheer number of injuries that have ravaged their roster.
As per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, the team’s backcourt is so thin that Kendall Marshall, recently signed from the D-League, will actually get the start on Jan. 3 against the Utah Jazz.
Desperate situations often call for desperate measures in Hollywood, so it is commendable that the Lakers brass has managed to hold out on dumping Gasol for below value during these trying times.
Despite the fact that he’s 33 years old and declining noticeably on both ends of the floor, the Spanish power forward still averages 15.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per contest.
Gasol could make a real impact for a contending franchise and his $19 million expiring contract is equally valuable for rebuilding organizations.
Gasol, a 13-year veteran, recently addressed the trade rumors swirling around him, as per Windhorst and Shelburne: "I'm more accustomed to them and I deal with them better than I did at first, when it started. But it's just a reality, and I just got to stay cool and keep my mind on the game as much as I can."
Because the Lakers front office is exercising patience and seemingly waiting for the ideal opportunity to arise before trading Gasol, these rumors may continue for the next seven weeks or so.
It’ll be interesting to see what L.A. decides to do with the clock ticking down, especially if things start to turn around with Kobe Bryant’s return potentially happening right around the deadline.