NBA Trade Speculation: Pau Gasol for Rudy Gay Could Help Fix the LA Lakers

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 26:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 26, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. 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

Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies have been in the middle of scores of trade rumors over the last couple years. The turn of a new year always stokes the fire under situations such as these.

In a roundup of trade rumors from around the league, Bleacher Report's Rick Weiner points out that both Gasol and Gay may be available.

So, as one who loves to play general manager, my gears are turning.

A straight-up deal of Gasol for Gay would leave something to be desired on both sides. The Lakers would be much stronger on the wing with Gay, but would be surrendering the size advantage they've enjoyed for years. Fort the Grizzlies, this deal would leave a gaping hole on the wing.

To come up with a balanced deal involving Gay and Gasol, I had to look for a third team to throw into the mix. Enter the Indiana Pacers and their own rumor magnet, Danny Granger.

A couple weeks ago, ESPN's Ric Bucher commented on the Pacers, saying, "They desperately want Paul George to show he can be their go-to guy so they can move Danny Granger."

With Granger in the mix, the hole in Memphis' lineup that would be left by Gay's departure no longer exists. Of course, Indiana would need solid compensation for the guy who's been their best player for three or four years now. 

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The principle pieces of this three-team deal would look something like this:

Lakers Get: Rudy Gay from Memphis and David West from Indiana

Grizzlies Get: Pau Gasol from Los Angeles and Danny Granger from Indiana

Pacers Get: Zach Randolph and Metta World Peace

Why It Works for the Lakers: Replacing Gasol with West isn't an upgrade and doesn't really address the team's problems with age and defense. However, the upgrade on the wing with Rudy Gay more than makes up for that.

Gay is young, athletic and has the potential to be very dynamic in Mike D'Antoni's offense. 

Moving Gasol also removes congestion inside and allows the team more freedom to spread out the way the Suns did under D'Antoni. 

Why It Works for the Grizzlies: This is probably the toughest one to sell because of how important Zach Randolph has been to the Grizzlies' recent success. That said, I don't think there are many people who would consider Gasol a huge downgrade (if at all).

Gasol's numbers are bad this year (12 points a game on 41 percent shooting), but they don't tell the story of how skilled he is. Alongside three superstars in D'Antoni's system, Gasol is a square peg in a round hole. A return to Memphis would be a much better fit.

There would be instant chemistry between the Gasol brothers in the frontcourt for Memphis and Lionel Hollins' more half-court-oriented approach suits Pau's game.

Offensively, Granger's ability to produce is on par with, and maybe even better than Gay's. When he returns from injury, he would fit perfectly into the small forward slot.

Why It Works for the Pacers: David West has been huge for the Pacers this year, but Randolph is even better. He would instantly be the team's best player.

As for World Peace, he's clearly a downgrade from Granger. However, he does add toughness to a team that's lacking there and it opens up an opportunity for Paul George.

LA is in desperate need of a shakeup, and this deal not only benefits them, but two other teams as well. The Lakers get younger and more athletic. The Grizzlies get bigger and more familial and the Pacers get tougher.

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