According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Phoenix Suns are exploring the possibility of acquiring Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol. The Suns have been exploring trades for several players to help them continue their surprise run to the playoffs, and Gasol appears to be one of their top targets.
It appears the Suns would prefer to acquire a player that won’t hamstring them financially in the upcoming seasons, and Gasol would be a fit. While he is making a huge salary this season ($19 million), he will hit free agency this summer.
Stein speculated that the Suns could send the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor to the Lakers to make the salaries work for both teams. Okafor is owed $14.5 million. While there would still be a difference in salaries, the Suns could afford to acquire Gasol because they have $5.6 million of cap space available.
Gasol, 33, is having a “down” season by his standards. He is averaging 17 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game with a 19.14 PER. He has been playing much better lately, averaging 21.8 points and 11.9 rebounds over his 10 games for the Lakers. Okafor hasn’t played this season and doesn’t expect to play at all for the rest of the year. Acquiring Okafor for Gasol would primarily be a salary dump for the Lakers unless the Suns decide to include a draft pick or two in the deal.
The Lakers are already over the luxury tax, and trading Gasol would move them closer to getting under the limit. They also expect to be major players in free agency this summer and next year, so they could use any cap space they can get.