The trade deadline came and went last month with Pau Gasol remaining a member of the Los Angeles Lakers until the end of his current contract. Ultimately, Los Angeles did everything in their power to get a first-round pick for Gasol, but no team was willing to give in to their demands. One team in particular, the Phoenix Suns, seemed a perfect match to acquire the four-time All-Star.
Phoenix has three first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, and could have easily parted with one of them. Yet, the Suns got cute. One of the reasons they didn’t want to pull the trigger was because Gasol couldn’t give them commitment beyond the rest of this current season. I’ll say it right now — you don’t want Gasol for any more than a short-term jolt.
He lacks the mental toughness to sustain a high level of effort in the long term now that he has already won championships. But for the rest of the season? It would have been perfect. A change-of-scenery always brings out the best in a player in the short term. Just ask Laker fans when they acquired him back in 2008. It baffles me why Phoenix didn’t give up the pick they are receiving from the Washington Wizards (currently 18th) to catch lightning in a bottle.
The Suns have struggled since the All-Star break, going 6-6, including losing six out of eight, subsequently dropping out of the top eight in the Western Conference. They had the perfect asset in Emeka Okafor‘s expiring contract to practically match the Spaniard’s. So in other words, they didn’t have to give up anyone who is currently contributing to their inspiring season.
All Gasol has done since the trade deadline is average 18.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks on 54.4 percent shooting. Meanwhile, Phoenix’s current starting center, Miles Plumlee, has averaged 5.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and is shooting 42.8 percent in that same time frame.
Phoenix might end up making the playoffs, yet they will more than likely go out with a whimper in the first round. They have almost no experience. With Gasol, they had a chance to make some noise and return relevancy to the franchise.
As the surging Wizards continue to win games, that pick looks completely irrelevant to them with an already young core set in place. Bringing in three more rookies doesn’t seem to make sense. The worse-case scenario is the Suns missing out on this year’s playoffs, and if that happens, what a wasted opportunity it was by their management.