L.A. Lakers Trade Rumors: Is Carmelo Anthony's Scoring Worth Pau Gasol?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 7, 2011

DENVER - APRIL 08:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets lays up a shot as Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends during NBA action at the Pepsi Center on April 8, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 98-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With each loss by the Los Angeles Lakers, the chorus of fans clamoring for a roster change grows louder, and to this point most people have viewed forward Ron Artest as the most likely candidate to be spirited away.

General manger Mitch Kupchak has alluded that he would possibly seek a trade before the NBA's deadline, but is it possible that he would take a chance and strike deep within the roster's core?

It is generally accepted that Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are the two Lakers who would be immune to any roster changes, but has Gasol's recent uneven play created an atmosphere that would provoke Kupchak to take a long, hard look at dealing him?

Would Kupchak's interest be heightened if the return for Gasol was disgruntled Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony?

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It is highly unlikely that Anthony will accept Denver's contract extension and remain in Colorado, and even though New York has been viewed as his most likely destination, nothing has been written in stone.

No other team could offer the Nuggets a player of Gasol's caliber, and he would immediately add legitimacy to a Denver team that has been searching for an interior identity.

But there are numerous factors to consider in the Lakers' case, and the negatives in a deal for Anthony could outweigh the positives.

Anthony's 24 ppg average is six points higher than Gasol's, but he shoots for a lower percentage and grabs fewer rebounds.

Gasol, along with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, also gives the Lakers a distinct size advantage in the interior that few teams could match, and it's not idle size considering the skill level of all three players.

Gasol is also a much better passer than Anthony, and his versatility makes him an ideal fit for Phil Jackson's triangle offense.

Anthony is no slouch when it comes to court intelligence, but Gasol may be one of the smartest players in the NBA, and there is no guarantee that Anthony would be willing to submit to the will of Bryant.

However, the most important factor may be that it would be hard to justify Kupchak trading Gasol for Anthony when you consider the Lakers' success since he arrived in the middle of the 2007-08 season.

Los Angeles has reached the NBA Finals each season and the Lakers have won the past two NBA championships.

In my opinion, it would border on insanity to deal Gasol in the face of what he has meant to the Lakers' championship revival, and in all probability, Gasol will emerge from the mini-slump he is currently mired in.

In fact the only clear advantage Anthony has over Gasol is his attitude and approach to scoring, as he is probably one of the league's most aggressive offensive players, and Gasol has a tendency to get rattled by physical defense.

Anthony generally regards physical, hard-nosed defense as a personal challenge, while Gasol has a habit of letting tough defenders force him off of his game.

But, is Anthony's scoring ability worth losing Gasol's size, skill, intangibles and championship experience?

Not likely.

Gasol's inconsistencies may have driven some fans over the edge this season, but that's no excuse to forget how much he has meant to this franchise since he arrived.

The Lakers have been swept from their pedestal as three-peat favorites in the eyes of many, but a motivated Gasol alongside Bryant has the ability to change opinions in a hurry.

There is a good chance that the Lakers and Kupchak will attempt to secure a deal in the coming weeks, but any overtures concerning Gasol as a bargaining chip would likely be a step in the wrong direction.