Pau Gasol can’t catch a break in L.A. He’s been punched by Phil Jackson and called weak by Kobe Bryant. Heck, Mike D’antoni’s first act as Los Angeles Lakers saboteur was benching Gasol. The way the Lakers’ franchise treats Pau, it’s no wonder other teams attempt to nab him for pennies on the dollar.
Even the Cleveland Cavaliers, a moribund franchise in the pre-and-post LeBron James era, tried to trick the Lakers into giving up Gasol for Andrew Bynum. The same Cavs paid Bynum not to show up to their facilities. The Lakers, in fairness, would have immediately cut Bynum for cap relief, but that’s short-sighted for an asset like Gasol.
Now the Phoenix Suns allegedly offered Emeka Okafor in exchange for Gasol. Okafor, who’s rehabbing a neck injury, has played exactly as many minutes this season as you and me. What makes this trade more insulting is that the Suns acquired Okafor, a first-round pick, and a handful of scrubs — one of which was Kendall Marshall — for Marcin Gortat, a player less talented than Gasol in every conceivable way.
Behind all of the complaints, stories of unhappiness and nagging injuries, Gasol is having a good year. He’s averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, and he’s been even better since the calendar flipped to 2014.
If Gortat was worth an expiring contract and a first-round pick, negotiations for Gasol should start no lower. Pau is a two-time champion and deserves better, but more importantly, the Lakers deserve more in return than players off other teams’ scrap heaps.