Pau Gasol: Trading Star Forward Best Move for Los Angeles Lakers

Chris Hummer@chris_hummerAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a call by the officials during a 79-77 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on November 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Pau Gasol won't make a trade request, but the Lakers should look to move him anyway.

The star forward is having his worst statistical season of his career, averaging 12.2 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. A direct consequence of the fact that he doesn't seem to fit into Mike D'Antoni's system.

To be fair, that's not entirely Gasol’s fault.

D'Antoni has him spending more time on the three-point line than he does in the paint. That would be fine if he was a 6'5" guard. Only problem is, he's a four-time All-Star at the power forward spot.

Gasol has had a terrible time this season, and it only got worse on Friday night.

Gasol spent the majority of the fourth quarter on the bench against the LA Clippers. And D'Antoni made it clear the benching was based purely on performance saying, "He just didn't have a good game." (h/t ESPN)

That might sting, but that quote wasn't even the main story from the post-game interviews. Instead, the talk surrounded Gasol and any desire he might have for a trade, which, according to Gasol, is none.

"No, oh, that's radical," Gasol said when asked whether he would request a trade. "I still believe. I still have faith in what we have. I still have faith that I can be a big part in helping this team succeed. Right now, I'm not being able to do that very often."

The two-time champion may feel he still belongs in LA, but for his, and the team's sake, a trade would be best.

For Gasol, it's simply a matter of revitalizing his career.

With Dwight Howard in the middle of the paint, it leaves little space for Gasol to operate in his comfort zone. Inside 10 feet is where the Spaniard excels, but he doesn't get those opportunities any longer in Los Angeles.

He went from being the second option on a pair of NBA championship teams to playing fourth fiddle on a roster floundering around the .500 mark.

How's that for a jump?

Gasol needs a change of scenery to return to form. He's still an 18 point and 10 rebound guy in this league. Gasol has more post moves than 98 percent of big men in the NBA, and his ability to stretch the floor makes him dangerous.

He just needs a team that will put him in the right position to succeed. After all, it was only a few months ago where he and his brother Marc were dominating the paint in the Olympics for Spain.

Gasol hasn't lost his game in that short of time. He just needs a fresh start to get it back.

Much like Gasol, the Lakers would benefit from a bit of new beginning in the middle of the season. And the influx of talent that a Gasol trade would bring helps LA to do so.

The Lakers are in desperate need of youth, depth and shooting, and trading Gasol would provide at least two of the three.

There is no denying Gasol's contract is difficult to move. However, a trade that would return something like Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon makes a lot of sense, even if the Lakers turned down this trade only a month ago.

Bargnani would be a perfect fit with his ability to shoot and stretch the floor at the 4 spot, and Calderon is one of the most consistent point guards in the NBA.

That's just an example of what Gasol could command.

It won't be easy from a contract or an emotional stand point, but trading Gasol is the right move for the Lakers. And is exactly what Gasol needs to get back on track.


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