Paul Gasol's stock could not be any lower than it is right now. He is the personification of the demise of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jerry Buss and the rest of the Lakers brain trust will have to make decisions on who to keep and who to send packing. The only thing that is certain is that Kobe Bryant is staying and no team wants any part of the insane Ron Artest. That leaves the Lakers with three trade-able pieces: Lamar Odom, Paul Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
GM Donnie Walsh should offer Amare Stoudemire straight up for Pau Gasol.
Why the Knicks make this trade:
1 - The New York Knicks are no longer Stoudemire's team.
When the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony, they acquired a talent that is clearly superior to Stoudemire. Anthony's performance in Game 2 against the Boston Celtics is the exclamation point to this argument. No matter how good Stoudemire is, he cannot impact the game like Anthony.
2 - Gasol is better than Stoudemire.
Stoudemire is the better athlete and finisher. Every game he has a moment or two that simply wows you. Stoudemire believes he is one of the best players in the NBA and has welcomed the heat that comes from being a leader.
At every other level, Gasol is the better player. On defense, Gasol is an above average rebounder and is capable of defending elite players one-on-one at the center or power forward position. On offense, Gasol is one of the most efficient players in the league, capable of scoring from the post or facing the basket. He has very good court vision and is an adept passer for a big man.
3 - Stoudemire is an injury risk.
I would rather have the next three years of Gasol than the next four years of Stoudemire. As a GM, I would not fear Gasol's game receding due to injury. The same cannot be said of Amare. The Knicks gambled with an uninsured contract.
Why the Lakers make this trade:
1 - To get Gasol out of town.
Gasol is the face of the Lakers meltdown—how quickly the team and the town has soured on him. Hopefully, Jerry Buss forgets that Gasol carried the team for the first two months of the season and was a legit MVP candidate. Hopefully, Buss forgets that the Lakers do not win two titles without Gasol emerging as a top five big man.
2 - Stoudemire fits.
A frontcourt featuring Bynum and Stoudemire would work well because it accentuates each player's strengths. Amare is an athletic, above the rim scorer who would provide an added dimension to the Lakers game. Amare is not a rebounder, but would be an effective help defender and off position shot blocker.
Amare fits chemistry-wise because he would not shrink from Kobe Bryant. Amare is a "winner" and has the temperament to thrive next to the ultra-competitive Bryant.
3 - Stoudemire extends the title window.
Kobe Bryant wants that sixth ring badly. If the Lakers are going to retool, Amare Stoudemire is the best player available. The Lakers are not going to get Dwight Howard or Chris Paul for the 2012 season.
Assuming the Lakers do nothing else, a front court of Amare, Bynum and Odom with Bryant and Artest in the backcourt would still be considered the odds-on favorite out of the Western Conference.
As a Knickerbocker fan, I would thank Stoudemire for taking our money when no other big name would. I would thank Stoudemire for carrying the Knicks for the first 50 games of the season. He was the first step in re-energizing the Knicks.
I would then welcome Pau Gasol with open arms. He's a better player and a better fit for this team right now.