The Los Angeles Lakers' trade talk centers around their big men, but which one will be moved, if either?
According to Brandon LaChance of Yahoo! Sports, "Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol would be the guys to move because they have interest from teams in the trade market and would bring in a top caliber player for Kobe Bryant."
The fact the Lakers have two dominant bigs is a luxury in itself. Most teams search for years to find one seven-footer capable of consistently producing 16 points and 10 rebounds per game, the Lakers have two.
Yet, they still aren't quite at the level they want to be.
They would like to make a move, and the bigs will bring the most in return. Which is the right one to move?
The answer here is clearly Pau Gasol. Though he has been more durable and is more skilled overall, he is 31 years old and Bynum is 24.
Bynum has finally shown he could stay healthy through an entire season, and he has been arguably the second-best center in the NBA. Through 35 games, Bynum is averaging 16.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. That production is undeniable, and his age has to make the Lakers think about his part in their future.
Gasol is certainly no slouch, and that is precisely why teams would show so much interest in him. In what has been somewhat of a down year, Gasol has averaged 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
There isn't a front line in the NBA that wouldn't start Gasol immediately at either center or power forward. Because of that value he is an attractive asset, but because of Bynum, he is expendable.
Then you take a look at the contract situations for both players.
The Lakers hold a team option on Bynum for next season at just more than $16 million. This is just about $1 million more than he makes in 2011-2012. Gasol still has two more years left on his deal worth a total of $38 million.
Moving Gasol means less commitment for less money. That is always attractive for a team, especially one dissatisfied with its current level of play.
Expect Gasol to be moved on March 15. After the Lakers have held out as long as possible for the best offers for Gasol, they will settle on the one that offers them the most financial flexibility. This way they maintain the ability to go after Howard in the offseason.
This is still the master plan.