Potential Trade Packages, Scenarios and Landing Spots for Pau Gasol

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

Potential Trade Packages, Scenarios and Landing Spots for Pau Gasol

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Pau Gasol trade rumors: Take 1,000,006. 

    There is no escaping the Gasol rumor mill. His status with the Los Angeles Lakers has essentially been day-to-day since the botched Chris Paul trade in 2011. Then, just when you think he's safe because Dwight Howard left and he's on an expiring contract, tradition strikes.

    According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein, the Lakers are, once again, mulling over trading Gasol. This rumor drops just after Gasol expressed dissatisfaction for how he's used in the Lakers offense.

    "The fact that I'm not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness," he said, via Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. "When I'm not getting the ball where I want to, where I'm most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity."

    Gasol's pact comes off the books this summer, and with the Lakers set to have plenty of cap space, they don't have to trade him. But that doesn't mean they won't. This could be the year they finally do it—the year the Lakers actually move Gasol.

    If they can find the right deal, one that allows them to win now without sacrificing financial flexibility in the near future, prepare for general manager Mitch Kupchak to pounce.

    *All stats used courtesy of Basketball-Reference and all salary information obtained from ShamSports.com unless otherwise noted.

4-Team Extravaganza

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SG Eric Gordon (three years, $14.3 million) and SF Evan Turner (one year, $6.7 million).

    Memphis Grizzlies Receive: C Pau Gasol (one year, $19.3 million) and SF Wesley Johnson (one year, $884,300).

    New Orleans Pelicans Receive: PF Zach Randolph (two years, $18.2 million).

    Philadelphia 76ers Receive: SG Austin Rivers and 2019 first-round draft pick (from Los Angeles).

    Why Los Angeles Does It

    Turner is having a monster year with the Sixers. With his salary projected to come off the books, the Lakers can either sign him or let him walk. Consider this a half-season tryout.

    Gordon is expensive and signed through 2015-16, but let's face it, he has All-Star potential when healthy. He also gives the Lakers a secondary playmaker who shifts Kobe Bryant to the 3, making him a point forward. Looking ahead, they would give coach Mike D'Antoni a nice one-two punch over the next couple years.

    Why Memphis Does It

    According to Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling, the Grizzlies are looking to move Z-Bo. Pairing Gasol with his brother, Marc, gives Memphis an equally versatile replacement for Randolph, who will likely be signed for a fraction of the cost this summer.

    Per Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, Gasol is also intrigued by a return to Memphis, where he began his career. His arrival gives the Grizzlies a selling point when their Gasol hits free agency in 2015 as well. "Keep it in the family" is what they could say—or something like that.

    Why New Orleans Does It

    Zwerling says the Pellies could be interested in Z-Bo as a big body alongside Anthony Davis. He also writes they could be looking to move Gordon. Might as well kill two birds with one transaction, right?

    Gordon is the team's third-leading scorer, making him expendable when you consider Z-Bo is a double-double machine. His departure also allows Tyreke Evans to assume full-time shooting guard duties once he's healthy. Acquiring Z-Bo will permit Davis to become more of an inside-out 5 upon return as well. Good karma all around, basically.

    Why Philadelphia Does It

    Per Zwerling, the Sixers aren't keen on paying Turner big money this offseason. Shipping him off to Los Angeles in favor of a future first-rounder and Rivers, who could be the shooting guard of their future, is ample reason for them to pull the trigger here.

New York Knicks

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: C Tyson Chandler (two years, $14.1 million), SG Iman Shumpert (three years, $1.7 million) and J.R. Smith (three years, $5.6 million).

    New York Knicks Receive: C Pau Gasol (one year, $19.3 million).

    Why Los Angeles Does It

    Time for some rumor-mill tugging here. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Los Angeles is interested in Chandler and has already phoned New York about Shumpert's availability.

    Fully aware that landing Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James this summer is a long shot, the Lakers would regroup for next season and look ahead to 2015. Chandler, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is a defensive upgrade over every big the Lakers have. Shumpert, while struggling in New York, adds depth on the wing, and Smith, raging immaturity and all, can be an asset offensively.

    One issue here (surprise, but not really) is Smith. His contract runs beyond next season, so the Lakers must be pretty confident they can either dump him or that he won't exercise his player option for 2015-16.

    Still, if the Lakers are done with free-agency planning for 2014, this is a deal worthy of consideration.

    Why New York Does It

    Because they hate you (I'm kidding—I think). 

    The Knicks have been dangling Shumpert in trade talks since before you were born. With the way Smith is playing—awful—they'd also be lucky to wave buh-bye to his contract. Chandler is the tough farewell here.

    Hoping against hope they can clear their books this summer, the Knicks could do it. They really could. As I outlined previously, if the Knicks can find a home for Amar'e Stoudemire in exchange for an expiring deal, in addition to moving Chandler and Smith, they suddenly have under $50 million in salaries on their docket heading into this summer.

    Who knows what would happen after that? Maybe they find a way to dump Andrea Bargnani, creating enough spending power to offer a max contract after re-signing 'Melo. Possibilities aren't endless, but they're easier to explore following this deal.

    Speaking of Anthony, the Knicks would also remove the Lakers from his list of potential destinations with this deal, since it sends Los Angeles back to the Land of No Cap Room.

    As for Gasol, well, he's pretty much worthless to New York as anything other than an expiring pact. He's a clear downgrade from Chandler on defense, and offensively, he's Bargs plus passing, but sans the outside touch.

    This is a deal predicated on "coulds," and if both sides are feeling lucky, it's one that could pick up steam.

Boston Celtics

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PF Kris Humphries (one year, $12 million), SG Courtney Lee (three years, $5.2 million) and PG Rajon Rondo (one year, $12 million).

    Boston Celtics Receive: C Pau Gasol (one year, $19.3 million), PG Steve Nash (two years, $9.7 million) and a 2019 first-round draft pick.

    Why Los Angeles Does It

    No matter how many rocks they turn over, the Lakers cannot find a healthy point guard. Rondo isn't healthy at the moment, but he's a four-time All-Star (three appearances) the Lakers can build around.

    Humphries can also act as a hybrid power forward-center in D'Antoni's small-ball-heavy system, someone who grabs insane amounts of rebounds, kind of like Jordan Hill, only without athleticism. His contract expires after this season as well, rendering him a low-risk acquisition.

    Lee is a versatile perimeter defender who has had his offensive moments under Brad Stevens. Zwerling says the Celtics are interested in moving him, and the Lakers aren't about to split hairs over his inclusion if it means landing Rondo.

    Why Boston Does It

    General manager Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe making the playoffs wasn't the goal for his Celtics. He eventually explained what he meant, but you get the idea.

    Boston has nothing to gain by winning the Atlantic Division. It's already leading it without Rondo. Moving him allows them to hope natural selection pushes them into the Eastern Conference basement, positioned to draft an Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker.

    You gladly take on Gasol for one year, even at that price, if it means housing a real center. Couldn't think of a better half-season mentor for Vitor Faverani or Kelly Olynyk, either. You also take on Nash if it means getting rid of Lee. When Nash is healthy, he's also a legitimate point man who prevents the Celtics from overpaying Jordan Crawford this summer.

    This deal frees up some serious money for the Celtics this summer and the one after. That, coupled with the inclusion of a first-rounder, could peak their interest.

    *Full disclosure: Boston could attempt to replace Lee in this deal with Gerald Wallace, who its also looking to move. The trade would still work financially, and the Lakers just might say yes. The purpose of the first-round pick, however, is to ensure Los Angeles doesn't have to take Crash.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PF Ryan Anderson (three years, $8.3 million) and SG Eric Gordon (three years, $14.3 million).

    New Orleans Pelicans: C Pau Gasol (one year, $19.3 million) and 2019 first-round draft pick.

    Why Los Angeles Does It

    Because it's ironic. And it works. 

    This time the Lakers attempt to trade Gasol to New Orleans, hopefully David Stern (or depending on time, Adam Silver) won't intervene. Acquiring Gordon and Anderson won't set the Lakers up for big things during the 2014 and 2015 offseasons, but they arguably make the Lakers a team that can contend now—or soon.

    Like we previously noted, Zwerling says the Pellies are open to moving Gordon. Sources also told him Anderson had been discussed as part of a deal for Z-Bo, so perhaps their leading scorer isn't untouchable.

    Ryno is D'Antoni's dream stretch forward. Think of him as Kevin Love, only he doesn't grabs as many rebounds, pass quite as frequently or grow his beard as long.

    Not to get too far ahead, but Gordon and Ryno also come off the books just in time for the Lakers to pursue a certain someone by the name of Kevin Durant in 2016, when Kobe presumably retires. Just saying.

    Why New Orleans Does It

    According to Zwerling, they're in the market for a big to complement The Brow. Gasol, a 7-footer, is certainly big. He's also a stellar passer and, when he's feeling it, gives you some range on the offensive end. That first-round pick is also valuable for the future and as trade bait.

    Since Gasol's contract comes off the books this season and the Pellies are ridding themselves of two long-term deals in this trade, you're looking at a New Orleans organization that could find itself $20-25 million under the cap if it doesn't retain Gasol this summer.

    Makes for some serious free-agency binging potential, wouldn't you say?

3-Team Fiesta

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PF Carlos Boozer (two years, $15.3 million), SF Luol Deng (one year, $14.3 million), PG Kyle Lowry (one year, $6.2 million) and PF Steve Novak (three years, $3.8 million).

    Chicago Bulls Receive: PG Steve Blake (one year, $4 million), PF Pau Gasol (one year, $19.3 million) and SF Landry Fields (two years, $6.3 million).

    Toronto Raptors Receive: PG Steve Nash (two years, $9.7 million) and 2019 first-round draft pick (from Los Angeles).

    Why Los Angeles Does It

    Look, Boozer isn't the ideal acquisition, but he's off the books by 2015 and gives Los Angeles the double-double threat it doesn't currently have. To trade Gasol, the Lakers will likely have to forget about 2014 free agency anyway, so no harm, no foul. They're also getting rid of Nash who, while it kills me to say, has become a non-factor.

    Deng is valuable for obvious reasons, none more important than he gives the Lakers a lockdown defender who can also score. Lowry is the point guard they don't have, and if you don't think Magic Mike will find use for Novak, you're out of your mind, or you just hate deadly three-point shooters.

    Why Chicago Does It

    Derrick Rose isn't going to be happy, but I don't care. Moving Boozer puts Chicago well under the cap this summer. Perhaps D-Rose will cheer up once the Bulls make a fancy new free-agency acquisition. 

    Bear in mind that Rose also wanted Gasol on the Bulls in 2012. Stein and Shelburne also name Chicago as a potential destination for him now. Housing Gasol into this summer gives them the inside track on re-signing him at a discount.

    When healthy, I'd also rather have Blake as my primary playmaker over Hinrich any day. As far as cheap Deng replacements go, Fields isn't terrible, and he comes off the ledger after next season anyway. 

    No, Chicago isn't matching its outgoing talent with its incoming haul. But positioning itself for some offseason flexibility without having to pay Boozer to go away is just as good. 

    Why Toronto Does It

    Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Raptors have been shopping Lowry like crazy, and general manager Masai Ujiri could do far worse than this.

    Procuring that 2019 first-rounder is always good business. Trade bait, future asset—you name it. But Nash isn't irrelevant, either. Fields is only on the Raptors because they wanted to prevent the Knicks from completing a trade for Nash in 2012. He's Canada's greatest basketball star and will sell tickets even if he's not playing at a high level. Because Ujiri is a genius, he'll also have cleared Toronto's books of Novak's and Fields' deals.

    Mutually beneficial trades usually comprise only two teams, but this one is thrice as nice.


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