The Los Angeles Lakers finally saw the return of Kobe Bryant exactly one week ago, but they are once again thinking about moving another of their stars at the deadline.
Spanish forward Pau Gasol has been reportedly feuding with Mike D’Antoni over his role on the offensive side of the ball and those issues – along with his own struggles, his impeding free agency and his overall frustration – could force the Lakers to trade their big man near the deadline.
While that could be the only feasible solution to the problem, the Lakers would be crazy to actually send him to another team.
First of all, it needs to be considered that Gasol’s impeding free agency makes him essentially a rental for the reminder of the season — and one that wouldn’t be cheap as the Spaniard is making close to $20 million this year. He’s certainly not playing like a $20M player, and whether that might be due to everything that surrounds him it’s not likely that a team would be willing to find that out.
Secondly, there are virtually no trade partners for the Lakers. They don’t have many assets to package with Gasol, and the one team that could be able to make a deal with them – the Chicago Bulls – doesn’t have the necessary pieces the Lakers are looking for. Los Angeles is reportedly looking for a star to pair up with Kobe, and the Bulls would offer something along the lines of Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. Not exactly the sexiest trade offer considering Deng will hit the open market at the end of the season and Boozer is a downgrade over Pau.
Considering how difficult the negotiations might be, the best for all parties would be if Gasol remains in Los Angeles. His stock can’t get any lower with his performances this year, but he’s a proven player that can certainly gain a fresh start when he hits the market next year.