Lakers Rumors: Why Knicks' Pursuit of Pau Gasol Makes Sense for Both Teams

Ryan DavenportContributor IJune 28, 2014

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, left, gestures as Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol (16), of Spain, looks on during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

From the sound of things, big changes are coming for the Los Angeles Lakers

Earlier this week, the team took their first step to returning to glory, at the 2014 NBA draft, as former University of Kentucky Wildcat Julius Randle slipped to No. 7, providing Mitch Kupchak with his power forward of the present and future. 

But, as one promising young asset enters the fold, a one-time franchise cornerstone seems to be preparing to exit, as Pau Gasol's time in L.A. may be finished within a matter of days.

Per ESPN's Marc Stein, the New York Knicks are preparing to take a run at the four-time All-Star, lead by Phil Jackson, the man who coached Gasol to a pair of NBA titles with the Lakers. 

And there's a possibility that the Spaniard's arrival would serve as a pivotal factor in convincing Carmelo Anthony to stay with the Knicks. 

Sources told that Knicks officials, while not willing to trumpet it publicly with free agency fast approaching, are quietly confident about their odds of retaining Anthony thanks in part to the idea that new team president Phil Jackson and the high-scoring forward have "connected" to some degree.

Furthermore, one source close to the process told's Ramona Shelburne that Jackson is planning to make a determined attempt to try to recruit his former Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol to replace the freshly traded Tyson Chandler alongside Anthony on the Knicks' front line, despite the fact New York is limited to offering Gasol less than $4 million for next season.

Obviously, there are some stumbling blocks here, such as the limited financial flexibility the Knicks have to offer Gasol, but, at least in theory, this move makes sense for all parties involved. 

For the Knicks, it would give the team a big man to fill the void created by the departure of Tyson Chandler, but, more importantly, if it helps the franchise keep its most valuable asset since Patrick Ewing's prime, New York has to sign Gasol. 

From a basketball standpoint, Gasol is still a quality veteran presence on the floor, as seen by the 17.4 points and 9.7 boards per game he put up in 2013-14, and there's no doubt that adding him makes the Knicks a better team. 

And, in the eyes of a coveted asset like Anthony, the arrival of a 33-year-old potential future Hall of Fame performer has to make re-signing more enticing, if for no other reason than to have the 7'0" Gasol take some of the scoring burden off of his shoulders. 

Apr 16, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) watches from the bench against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at AT&T Center. The Lakers won 113-100. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In addition, the Lakers have seemingly been toying with the idea of parting ways with Gasol for months, and, despite his status as the team's current best healthy player, removing the distraction of the constant rumors would benefit the organization. 

Looking back, Gasol's career as a Laker has had its ups and downs. He was a central figure in two NBA title runs, and put up better than 18 points a game during his first four seasons in L.A., but the mutual lack of success during Mike D'Antoni's reign as coach makes a change of scenery look like the best option for both parties. 

From Gasol's perspective, it will probably come down to whether he's willing to sign a contract far below his market value in order to play where he's wanted, and, given that he made more than $19 million in 2013-14, one has to think he'll at least consider the Knicks.