The number of trade rumors surrounding the Lakers this season has been too numerous to keep track of.
The number of trades that have actually been completed (and not vetoed)? One, and in it the Lakers received a trade exception.
Now there are rumors circulating that the Lakers might be interested in acquiring point guard Kyle Lowry of the Houston Rockets. The point guard issues certainly are no secret for Los Angeles, and the Rockets are a team that was willing to trade with the Lakers before.
But this is one trade that seems more unlikely than most of the rest. The original trade was suggested by Chris Broussard, who spends time working for ESPN as a basketball analyst and conjuring up trade rumors in his spare time. Following Broussard’s suggestions, Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld also discussed the possibility of the Lakers bringing in Kyle Lowry form Houston.
Despite the fact that the Lakers need help at the point and that the Rockets could use some help in the paint, don’t expect the Lakers to be shipping off Pau Gasol to Houston. Again.
The original trade involved Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic. While Martin is a strong player there is nowhere for him to play in L.A. (Kobe Bryant, anyone?), and Dragic may be a productive guard but he certainly isn’t the amount of value that the Lakers are looking for in exchange for Gasol.
That leaves Lowry. The Houston point guard is having a career year, averaging 16.5 points, 8.7 assists and 6.9 rebounds. He’s also a fairly strong defender, at least much more than the Lakers currently have and is hitting 39.7 percent from three-point range, which is another area where the Lakers struggle. Lowry is also significantly younger (25) than the two men manning the point right now, Fisher (37) and Blake (31).
Seemingly this seems like a deal the Lakers might want to consider making. But as Pincus points out, there are more aspects to this scenario that aren’t so clear-cut. For instance, the Lakers would certainly need to take on Luis Scola and his contract in the trade.
“In theory it would give the Lakers a starting point guard and power forward in exchange for their All-Star four. Gasol will turn 32-years old after the season. Both Pau and Luis (Scola) have two more guaranteed years on their deals except Pau makes about $10 million more per season.”
Now, financially this does match up. The Lakers would actually be saving money, assuming they don’t pick up the option in Scola’s contract. Since the L.A. roster is already full they would need to include another player in the deal, which may mean rookie Darius Morris is the odd man out on a roster that would otherwise contain four point guards. But do they actually improve by making this trade?
There’s no doubt that Lowry is a fine young player, and is at the position that the Lakers currently need. But ultimately his current value is in his lack of value – meaning his contract. Right now Lowry has a very favorable contract at $17.7 million for three years (including this season). But, the final year of Lowry’s contract is only guaranteed for $1 million.*
This will look nice on the Lakers’ books right now, but the problem becomes trying to re-sign him once his current deal is up. If he continues to play well and put up impressive numbers he will demand higher value. That may be a problem for a Lakers team that is already feeling the heat of the new CBA tax rules that are set to kick in over the next few years. It’s possible that the Lakers, especially if they intend on trading for and re-signing Dwight Howard, might not be able to afford Lowry beyond the remainder of his current deal. This would essentially make him a loaner, which isn’t what you’re looking for in exchange for your 7-foot All-Star power forward.
And, in case you didn’t notice, all of this is just the Lakers’ point of view. Houston initially refused to trade Lowry in the original Chris Paul deal. A deal that would have brought them Pau Gasol. Why would their mindset be any different now?
On some levels this trade does make sense, but on more it seems to fall short. In the end it doesn’t seem like either team would view this as a viable way to improve in the long run. The Lakers would most likely improve by adding Lowry and Scola, even if it costs them Gasol. But if Houston believed at the beginning of the season that Lowry was more valuable than the potential Gasol would offer, why would that be any different after the success he has had already this season?
Ultimately, both will look at different aspects of the proposed trade and find things they most likely aren’t fond of, and in the end that may be why the trade isn’t made.