As Lakers fans, we tend to have this pre-conceived notion that the NBA revolves around the purple and gold. Every few years, us fans expect a team that contends for a championship, and if the team isn’t currently built to win immediately, then a trade that heavily favors the club is also expected.
Luckily that situation played out perfectly in 2008. The Lakers had come off one of the worst three-year stretches in franchise history by being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two years in a row by the Phoenix Suns, and before that missing the playoffs entirely in 2005.
Then out of thin air, Pau Gasol landed in the team’s lap. Mitch Kupchak had orchestrated a heist for the All-Star power forward, flipping Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and the rights to Marc Gasol for his older brother.
Four years and three Finals appearances later, the Lakers appear to be back where they started before acquiring Gasol: a team that’s good but not good enough to make a deep playoff run.
Suddenly, a large majority of fans are advocating a trade to be made, and many of the rumors involve the Spanish big man.
The hoopla surrounding Gasol has been so overblown by the mainstream media that after the embarrassing loss to the Phoenix Suns last Sunday night, Kobe Bryant came out and said something about it.
The Black Mamba said, “It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I’d rather them not trade him at all. If they’re going to do something, I wish they would just (expletive) do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out, he can play and he can invest all of himself into the game.”
The last time Kobe has publicly criticized Lakers’ management was when he infamously stated the Lakers should ship Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd to a couple of fans in a parking lot.
As a result of Kobe challenging his employers, they brought him Gasol. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond this time around seeing as the 34-year-old is currently the best player on the team but he’s certainly not the centerpiece of the future any longer.
I’m just going to come out and say it: Laker fans you need to give your heads a shake if you think trading Pau Gasol is beneficial is any way.
Look, the Lakers are currently in fifth in the Western Conference while essentially playing five on three every night. Gasol and Bryant still combine for 45.6 points a game, the second highest scoring duo in the league behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. And the team is still in its transitional phase from the era of the triangle to the defensive minded approach of head coach Mike Brown.
Give me five good reasons how trading Gasol will benefit the Lakers. They currently need a point guard who can break down the opponent’s offense, therefore making the Lakers less predictable on that side of the floor. They need to establish a rotation for the group of players at coach Brown’s disposal. They also need some sort of consistency from the small forward spot as well as from the bench.
Gasol is not the problem. Trading him solely for the sake of making a move will be eerily reminiscent of the Lamar Odom debacle.
There’s just no deal that I’ve read thus far that seems to justify sacrificing the Lakers’ un-guardable size advantage as proven Monday night in the Portland game. Unless the Nets or the Magic are willing to give up Deron Williams or Dwight Howard for Gasol, nothing else seems logical.
It’s imperative the Lakers receive equal value for Gasol if they were to move him. The way the Lakers are structured right now, if any one of the big three of Bryant, Gasol or Bynum go down with an injury, the Lakers aren’t making the playoffs. It would make very little sense for Mitch Kupchak to give away one of the only players keeping this team afloat.
The moves that the Lakers should make to propel them back to title-contending status have either been made by other teams (Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith), they’ve yet to make them (Ramon Sessions and Gilbert Arenas) or they’ve been cancelled by the league for basketball reasons (Chris Paul).
Sit tight Laker fans, there’s no need to panic yet. There is zero reason to trade Gasol at the moment. Doing so, would be as irrational a decision as the coaches not selecting him as one of the reserves for the All-Star team.