Lakers Rumors: Pau Gasol Trade Would Accelerate Team's Return to Dominance

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIFebruary 13, 2014

Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol of Spain, who is injured, looks on against the Utah Jazz during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The Jazz won 96-79. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

Things haven't quite gone as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers this year. Heading into Thursday, the team sits with a dismal 18-34 record. The team is currently ranked 15th in points per game, 20th in rebounds per game and 29th in points allowed.

That simply doesn't sound like the Lakers.

Dealing with a rash of injuries, the Lakers have not been at full strength for quite some time. Kobe Bryant has missed all but six games this season due to a knee injury. Pau Gasol has been hampered by a groin injury. Steve Nash has been dealing with a back injury.

It appears as though a trend is developing here.

The team is full of high-priced players who are getting up there in age and are having more and more difficulty staying healthy with each passing year.

Los Angeles needs to do something about this—for the sake of on-court production and cap space.

The best possible solution for this team is to trade center Pau Gasol.

At 33 years of age, Gasol is entering the twilight of his career. He has been productive for a long time—and continues to shine at times this season. However, chances are that it will be short-lived.

The seventh-highest paid player in the NBA, Gasol will earn $19,285,850 this season. It can be easily speculated that the Lakers would love to use that money in other areas.

Despite his looming injury, Gasol has played well of late. He averaged an impressive 20.8 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game over the month of January. The Lakers must strike while the iron is hot.

Trade talks regarding Gasol stalled between the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns earlier this month. However, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News recently shed some light as to why:

The Lakers were open to trading Pau Gasol until they couldn’t pry one of Phoenix’s top draft picks for this June away from the Suns. Phoenix could be getting No. 1 picks from Minnesota and Washington, and the Lakers are seeking one of those prime assets. Even as Gasol misses the next 10 days or so with a groin injury, the two teams are expected to resume talks.

It appears as though each team has what the other wants. The Lakers can acquire the draft pick that they desire, and the Suns will improve at the center position with Gasol.

Getting a deal done here would be the perfect scenario for the Lakers. Gasol hasn't even been the best center on the team this year. That honor goes to Chris Kaman.

The 7'0", 265-pound Kaman has been impressive since joining the team. Now that Kaman has received more playing time over the last three games, it becomes clear as to why Gasol is easily expendable for this team:

Pau Gasol vs. Chris Kaman Last 3 Games Played
Chris Kaman2/7-2/1169328
Pau Gasol1/26-1/3165354

Obviously, this season is unrecoverable for the Lakers. Looking toward next year, cap space would be freed up upon Gasol's departure, Kaman would take over at center, Bryant will be back and healthy and the team would improve nicely through the draft.

Trading Gasol is the fastest way for this team to get back on track and return to dominance.