Immediately subsequent to the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ major signing of LeBron James, the NBA free agency floodgates finally burst opened as multiple big names have found new homes. The Los Angeles Lakers made their mark yesterday, acquiring Jeremy Lin and a future first round pick solely as a salary dump. Later on it was announced that the team also agreed to terms with Nick “Swaggy P” Young and Jordan Hill adding more depth to the previously deflated roster. Then came speculation surrounding Pau Gasol‘s next move.
Los Angeles reached out to Gasol the instant they were informed that they were out of the running to land Carmelo Anthony. Gasol declined an overly generous offer of 2 years, $23 million and again an enhanced deal of 3 years, $29 million. At that point it was clear Gasol was on his way out of town to sign with a franchise in championship contention. The San Antonio Spurs were mentioned as leading candidates to land the Spaniard, but late last night the Chicago Bulls began a strong push to acquire Gasol via a sign-and-trade.
Originally the Lakers were reportedly supposed to receive a couple of draft picks and possibly Mike Dunleavy Jr. in return for Gasol. However, talks broke down as the night went on, so the two sides resumed negotiations early this morning. Chicago had desperately attempted to trade Carlos Boozer, while the Lakers remained adamant in seeking future assets whether it be picks or a young player. With neither side budging, the Houston Rockets apparently emerged as the third team in a potential three way trade, but again no deal was able to be agreed upon.
As a result, the Bulls decided to sign Gasol outright without dumping any assets onto either Los Angeles or Houston. To say the Lakers miserably failed at this transaction would be an understatement. When a player appears to have made up his mind, much like Gasol did, management must accept a deal no matter how lopsided it may be. Acquiring a late first round draft pick or even a couple second round picks is much more valuable than allowing an extremely talented player like Gasol to walk for absolutely nothing.
In the midst of a rebuilding process, Los Angeles must take advantage of every single opportunity presented to gain assets in order to be successful once again. Witnessing a true Laker great leave town is difficult enough, but to have him leave for nothing in return is just throwing salt into the already painful wound.