Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala — All incredible talents and players that could take the Lake Show in a new direction. Still, amid all the trade talk, rumors and speculation the Lakers players that have been linked with possible moves just seem to be too good to lose. Despite some problems this year, the Lakers frontcourt tandem of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom remain some of the best, most gifted players the league has to offer. So why is Los Angeles so eager to pack their bags and send them to LAX to hit the road like Ray Charles or fouled out Jack’s at STAPLES Center? Sure, the loss to this years champion Dallas Mavericks revealed some difficulties, but putting these players on the block, even two at a time for potential new players (no matter how good they are) just doesn’t seem right. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Let’s investigate why.
EXHIBIT A: PAU GASOL
The player that the Lakers fans seem most eager to get rid of is the one guy that took the Lakers from the basement to the high-rises of back-to-back championships. Now you don’t have to be called Alanis to know that that’s ironic. Gasol is arguably the most important Laker of the last five years, don’t you think? Sure, this year Pau’s play in the Western semifinals was not on full, but he was riddled with personal trouble. Now I know that these matters should be left at the door with basketball, as he should have been leaving it all on the floor, but still, sometimes things are too much and get the better of even the strongest minds.
That’s a key word right there, ‘strong’. Pau’s other ‘problem’ is that he’s been labelled ‘soft’ for nearly his entire career. The matter of this fiction however, is that just because he’s European and skilled doesn’t make him less able to bang inside with the leagues best big men. SLAM magazine said it best in a feature titled ‘Soft As A Rock’: “After his first Laker year loss to Boston Pau toughened up to the level of guys like Kevin Garnett and he can more then hold his own against hulking Adonis’ like Dwight Howard … just not in the trade market it seems.”
It’s also Gasol’s serious skill-set that helps him gas up the Lakers offense. Back in the day, Shaq was renowned for his perfect passing (probably because it seemed unusual coming from such a big body), but Pau’s precision is taken at read and even ignored. Plus from Olive Oil armed post-moves (those biceps have some Popeye spinach) to fancy footwork and a never back-down, post-championship attitude, this guy has it all. From strong dunks, stares and screams to a nice mid-range jumper, Pau’s unpredictable game is what gives the Lakers offense it’s most potency and power. How could you even trade the guy that helped the Lakers almost three-peat? Without him, forget about starting a new one.