The Los Angeles Lakers already have more than half of their salary committed to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for next season. Nash has recently indicated that he does not want to retire, meaning that the Lakers will either have to waive him or roll the dice on him lasting the whole season. Bryant wants change within the organization and wants to win now. There are options in free agency, but with a limited amount of money, they might have to look in-house.
Pau Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors ever since the Lakers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in Phil Jackson’s last year. His play has been on the decline in recent years, mainly because of injuries. However, he still remains extremely skilled and capable of producing big games. Some might think his statistics are skewed due to playing on a poor team, but it can be hard for a true, back to the basket player, to produce a lot of points in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. In fact, Gasol has voiced his displeasure over the season about his lack of touches. On the year, Gasol is still averaging about 18 points and 10 rebounds a game. While he may not be a defensive anchor, he also gives the Lakers over a block a game.
Gasol has always been a great teammate. He has Bryant’s trust, and is a positive figure in the locker room. He has stayed upbeat even though his name continuously comes up around the trading deadline. And on the court, he is always seen encouraging and high-fiving his younger teammates, even with the team struggling. He continues to play hard despite the situation, which directly relates to his positive character.
If Gasol can be signed for a decent price, then the Lakers can still be competitive next season. While a cast of Nash, Bryant and Gasol might not seem like much, the Lakers still have a lottery pick and the money to add several key players. Mitch Kupchak has done well in the past with limited resources, and the chemistry between Gasol and Bryant should help.
Gasol has shown that he can still play at a high level and be a reliable offensive player. He is a great teammate who is smart enough to fit seamlessly within any team. He has played well on a struggling team, and continues to play hard every game. With limited options, the Lakers should explore the possibility of bringing back Gasol for another year.