In this plan, instead of trying to trade Pau Gasol for younger, more athletic players to fit Coach Mike D’Antoni’s spread offense (which we’ve heard so much about), the Lakers would keep both big men, play slow and pound the ball inside, which was exactly what they did in their 28-12 finish to this season.
Gasol was widely expected to be shopped at season’s end, when Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak made him no promises and Pau did about as much as said farewell after his exit interview.
Still, it was Kobe Bryant who first threw out the notion of bringing this team back for one more season publicly, noting he put in a pitch with Kupchak to keep Pau.
The Lakers have only Steve Nash’s $9.7 million contract–to which they hope to add that of Howard–for the 2013-14 season, after which the team is committed to getting below the luxury tax threshold, projected at approximately $80 million for next season (assuming no changes are made).
The Lakers, of course, hope Bryant will return from his Achilles injury and still manage to be productive. Steve Blake, who came on as the season progressed, would be a natural fit to stay. It remains to be seen if Metta World Peace will be considered part of the core group, but he has negligible trade value and amnestying him would net the Lakers no advantage on the cap or on the floor.
Still, with the latest revelation that the team may be considering hanging onto Gasol is surprising, but also not surprising. Gasol has been the focal point of trade rumors for over a year and a half now, but manages to remain a Laker.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out what Mitch Kupchak had to say about Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant!
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