The Los Angeles Lakers positioned themselves as title contenders with the acquisition of All-Star center Dwight Howard last week. Along with the addition of Steve Nash, Los Angeles has had a successful offseason, to say the least. However, could there be another deal on the horizon?
The Lakers have tried to move Pau Gasol in several deals, but the veteran forward ultimately was left out of the blockbuster deal that sent Howard to L.A. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a trade had been in the works to send Gasol to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith, who has voiced his desire to be moved several times. The deal fell through when the Lakers were said to want another quality player in addition to Smith.
A Smith for Gasol swap makes sense for both teams. With Smith potentially leaving in free agency next year, the Hawks will look to get some value back before he walks. Gasol is a proven, quality big man, and would be good value for a potential rental of Smith. Many teams will be reluctant to take on Smith with the fear of him leaving for nothing, so receiving Gasol back may be the best package they can receive.
For the Lakers, the deal makes sense on multiple fronts. With Kobe Bryant, Nash and Gasol, Los Angeles is one of the oldest teams in the league. With Howard reopening the championship window, the Lakers could be looking to secure more pieces for the future, and Smith is only 26 years old. Smith and Howard are also said to be friends, which could help secure new deals with both players should Smith be traded to the Lakers. A frontcourt tandem of Smith and Howard would be one of the most defensively dominant duos in NBA history. While Gasol’s outside touch may be a better fit offensively, the defensive combination is hard to resist.
The Lakers have already positioned themselves for the present, but securing Smith would potentially set Los Angeles for the foreseeable future as well.