Could Gasol be dealt to the T-Wolves in a package that includes Love?
The deal would potentially have All Star Power Forward Pau Gasol going to the land of 10,000 lakes while the Lakers would be acquiring T-Wolve's young All Star Power Forward Kevin Love, the number two overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and a few other players coming to L.A. (Martell Webster, Johnnie Flynn, Nikola Pekovic and/or Anthony Tolliver)
The question remains how would this benefit both teams in the long and short term? Why would the T-Wolves give up so much for Gasol and why would the Lakers give up on Gasol after two championships?
Let's start with why Minnesota wants Gasol. He is the most fundamentally sound big man in the NBA. His lost post arsenal of offensive moves are the best since the days of Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon. He gives the T-Wolves the center they desperately need to team with their young power forward (either Love or Michael Beasley) and more importantly, he is friends with Ricky Rubio and would help ease Rubio's transition to the NBA from the Euro League.
While Gasol's audacious post season play in the 2011 NBA playoffs leaves a bad taste in the Lakers organization and Lakers fans' mouths, he is still a quality big man that is an All Star and can match-up against almost any big man in the NBA. He also provides a championship and veteran leadership in the T-Wolves locker room which it currently lacks. He is a person head coach Kurt Rambis can go to since they have a relationship dating back to Rambis' days as a Lakers assistant.
The T-Wolves also need to show their fan base that the team is serious about trying to improve their on the court product. By adding Gasol it would show them that teamed with Gasol, Beasley, Rubio and Wesley Johnson, the T-Wolves are committed to putting a product on the court that is capable of winning more than 17 games in a given season and give the team some credibility.
For the Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak this is his most important off season to date. This deal would give them a much better bench instantly while getting younger and more athletic, something Kupchak and new head coach Mike Brown admitted they need to do, while remaining a team that can contend for another NBA title.
Kevin Love was an All Star at 22, averaged 20 points per game, led the NBA in Double Doubles and has reportedly told friends that he has no intention of playing his whole career in Minnesota and would leave the first chance he got. With Michael Beasley also playing Power Forward the T-Wolves have two very capable players that play the same position. Love would give the Lakers the type of presence on the boards that they need while being able to shoot the 3 point shot consistently (shooting over 40%). He also is a very skilled passer and a hard working defender down low, something the Lakers need to improve on.
The caveat about this potential deal besides obtaining Love, are the players coming over. Webster is a sharp shooter that can play Shooting Guard or Small Forward who would help space the floor while spelling Kobe Bryant or even playing next to him. Flynn is a young, quick/fast Point Guard that is an aggressive defender and not scared to take the big shot and would provide depth off the bench. Tolliver is a Forward that can shoot the 3 as well as play some Power Forward if the Lakers needed. Pekovic is a Center that would provide depth behind Andrew Bynum (or Dwight Howard should the Lakers deal for him).
The number two overall pick is something Kupchak covets. Derrick Williams, Arizona's Forward and Brandon Knight, the Point Guard out of Kentucky both would be options for the Lakers. Knight has already worked out for the Lakers privately and would be the heir apparent to the aging Derek Fisher. Williams may be the best player in the draft, can fill it up from the floor at the Small or Power Forward spots. He would give the Lakers one of the best young front courts in the NBA with Bynum and Love.
Kupchak, Mike Brown, the new Lakers head coach and Kobe Bryant, the franchise face, both know that the Lakers do not rebuild, they retool. Jim Buss, Dr. Jerry Buss's son and the person who will take the team over once Dr. Buss decides to "retire", also knows he is under pressure to make a move since he has refused to deal Andrew Bynum in the past.
That refusal also has led to speculation that he wouldn't deal Bynum for Orlando Center Dwight Howard (should Orlando decide to deal him). There are now reports that the Lakers could also be looking into a deal for New Orleans Hornets Point Guard Chris Paul. With the Tri-Angle offense not being used extensively under Mike Brown, a point guard that can create and defend is crucial. Paul has two years left on his deal and has said that he wants to play for a contender and has in the past said he would like to play for the Lakers.
According to the report on Hoopsworld, a deal is not close to being completed but both teams are continuing to have dialogue and will continue to do so up until and even after the draft (depending on a new NBA CBA agreement). If this deal were to happen both teams would benefit, but it would seem (on paper at least), that the Lakers would benefit more in the short and in the long term. While Minnesota adds a low post presence and a player that would make Rubio happy in Gasol, the Lakers would add depth, youth, athleticism and reinvigorate a franchise and fan base that rates success in NBA titles.
Time will tell if this deal goes down. If it does, Lakers fans would be ecstatic to add more pieces to a new championship puzzle. If it doesn't, now that news of this deal went public, another deal will have to happen down the pipeline because the pressure would be on the front office to make a deal that would restore the proud franchise back to championship form.