The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers have been playing this cat and mouse game over Pau Gasol for the past month. Phoenix doesn’t want to part with anything of real value to obtain Gasol, but the Lakers still have delusions of him having good trade value. Gasol no longer has good trade value for Los Angeles because every team knows they need to move him. Gasol is not re-signing with Los Angeles in the offseason, and the Lakers’ enormous tax bill and awful record makes it dumb to keep him. He must go, and everyone knows it.
Phoenix gives the Lakers an opportunity to save more than $12 million if they trade Emeka Okafor to Los Angeles. He makes almost $4 million more than Gasol, and with the Lakers being over luxury-tax they would save triple that. Moving Gasol for Okafor would also bring the Lakers roughly $3 million from getting under the tax line and save even more money.
This season is lost for the Lakers; they have had to deal with too many injuries, there is no certainty when Kobe Bryant will be back and the playoffs are out of the question. With roughly $20 million in cap space next year, the Lakers can throw away the rest of this season, save money in the meantime, get a high draft pick and try to reload on the fly with Kobe, Big Name Free Agent X and a lottery pick. There are only so many years left in Bryant’s legs, and the Lakers need to do everything in their power to be financially prepared to go all-out this summer.
This deal with Phoenix isn’t what Los Angeles wants, but it is going to be the best they can get. Gasol’s public acknowledgement of not meshing with Mike D’Antoni hasn’t helped the Lakers in negotiating, and their current record is doing even more harm. Gasol’s days in Los Angeles are numbered, and as of today that number is two. Gasol will be with the Suns in two days.