The trade rumors continue to circulate surrounding Pau Gasol in Los Angeles regardless of the team’s reluctance to trade to the two-time NBA champion until he’s able to play alongside new addition Steve Nash under head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Although Gasol’s days with the Los Angeles Lakers may ultimately be numbered if the team can’t turn it around with Nash running the show in the backcourt, the Lakers’ front office may have passed on perhaps the best opportunity to move the veteran forward in the off-season.
According to Ben Bolch of the L.A. Times, the Atlanta Hawks reached out to the Lakers in the off-season to inquire about Gasol in exchange for Josh Smith:
Gasol and Chris Duhon ($3.5 million) for Atlanta power forward Josh Smith ($13.2 million) and point guard Devin Harris ($8.5 million).
The Hawks called this summer to inquire about a Smith-for-Gasol trade.
The Lakers said no thanks.
They would probably be a lot more receptive now.
It has been rumored for quite some time that the Lakers have been interested in Smith in a swap for Gasol, but nothing has come to fruition between the Hawks and Lakers with both teams failing to see eye-to-eye on a deal that works for both sides.
Obviously, the deal mentioned above by Bolch makes perfect sense if offered today rather than over the summer. Smith is close friends with Dwight Howard and a much better option for the Lakers for many different reasons.
At 27-years old, Smith is five years younger than Gasol (32) and much more athletic. In 20 games this season, Smith is averaging 16.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Smith is also shooting a career-high 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
There’s no question that if this deal was still on the table the Lakers would likely jump at the opportunity to improve the squad. Smith’s presence in the paint alongside Howard would greatly improve the team’s defense, floor spacing and make this roster that much more versatile.