Lakers Trade Rumors: Latest Updates on Pau Gasol's Future with the Team

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2014

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a teammate was called for a foul against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 16, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Is Pau Gasol the most traded, but not really traded player in the history of the NBA? The Los Angeles Lakers big man has been the subject of constant trade rumors and was off to the Houston Rockets until the league said otherwise a few years ago.

The guy gets pulled in every direction, and this season has been no different.

Just a few days ago, ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne reported that Gasol could be headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and another player.

On Jan. 2, though, they reported that talks between the two teams have hit a wall:

The major issue, sources said, involves the Lakers' desire to get an additional asset from the Cavs beyond Bynum's team-friendly contract, which could save the Lakers more than $20 million in salary and luxury taxes. The Lakers are interested in also getting a young prospect or a first-round draft pick as part of the deal. The Cavs have been reluctant to part with either.

The proposed deal isn't completely dead, but Shelburne tweeted that the trepidation is mutual from both the Cavs and Lakers.

Maybe Mitch Kupchak and Co. listened to Tony Kornheiser last night.

By now, Lakers fans have probably become numb to all of these reports. They won't care until Gasol has his bags packed and the plane ticket bought.

So it will come as no surprise that Ken Berger of CBS Sports is reporting that Gasol may not be going anywhere at all:

Things can always change in Lakerland, but for now, the team intends to keep Pau Gasol and ride it out with the group it has. In fact, league sources say the Lakers lodged an inquiry with Toronto about a deal for Kyle Lowry to stabilize their injury-ravaged point guard position. The talks didn't go anywhere. Nonetheless, with Kobe Bryant trying to come back from a second significant injury in eight months, the incentive – and temptation – to dump salary and avert a date with the dreaded repeater tax will remain. Especially if LA remains on the outside of the playoff chase in the West.

You can see both sides of the argument.

On one side, you wonder if the Lakers can make a playoff push once Kobe Bryant returns to the court at 100 percent. They're clearly a much worse team without him, just as any other team would be without its best player.

There are also the number of injuries that have wiped out Los Angeles' point guards. Steve Blake, Nash and Jordan Farmar could return in early February at the earliest, so the team may want to wait until those guys are back before making a concrete decision

Once Mike D'Antoni has the full complement of his roster, the Lakers could be in a position for a run at the postseason.

Why trade away a player of Gasol's caliber when you're trying to make the playoffs?

The converse is that the Lakers aren't that good of a team with a healthy Bryant and they're destined for a first- or second-round exit in the playoffs, should they make the postseason.

What's the point in keeping a player like Gasol when you could trade him now and get something back before watching him leave for nothing in the offseason?

Even if it's a salary dump, Los Angeles could be easing itself of a financial burden and possibly receiving a solid bench player.

The good news is that in a little over a month, all of this will be resolved. February 20 is the trade deadline, so once that passes, we'll all know for sure where Gasol will be playing for the remainder of the season.


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