Pau Gasol trade rumors seem like an annual ritual of sorts. The forward seems to be a trade candidate every season and this year is no different.
According to ESPN, the Los Angeles Lakers are weighing a Gasol deal involving the New York Knicks in exchange for center Tyson Chandler. The Knicks, per the piece, aren’t necessarily interested in trading away Chandler but might make him available if a team also took J.R. Smith in a deal. The Lakers probably aren’t interested in the enigmatic guard, but do apparently want Iman Shumpert.
As previously stated, this isn’t the first time Gasol’s name has been mentioned when it comes to a potential trade. Ever since the Lakers acquired him, and even when they were winning titles with him, his name has been bandied about as being a player that’s readily available. A couple of years ago, Gasol was even virtually traded away along with Lamar Odom in a deal to acquire all-star guard Chris Paul before it was vetoed.
It’s not that Gasol is a bad player, but if he’s going to be traded, now might be the time to finally do it.
Simply put, Gasol did little to impress earlier this season when Kobe Bryant was out. The team was his to lead and he responded with a wildly consistent effort. In Kobe’s absence, the big man had only five 20+ point games. He was held to ten points or fewer in five games and also shot just over 40 percent without Bryant. Gasol, for what it’s worth, has rebounded well, but hasn’t done enough on offense on a night-in night-out basis.
Now 33, Gasol is clearly past his prime. He averaged a career-low 13.7 points per game last season and even with all of the games Bryant missed this year, when his scoring would have presumably increased in volume, isn’t doing much better so far this season with only 14.5 points a contest. The 43 percent he’s shooting on the year is also a career-low and there’s little reason to think that he will suddenly turn into the player he was a few years ago.
There are a couple of reasons why a Gasol trade makes sense. He’s a player in decline, but still has value. A lot of teams can use a big man that averages close to a double-double and even at his age, Gasol could still have several seasons left as a solid contributor. He would be better off on a team where he’s not asked to do quite as much offensively and can be more of a third option than a second one. The Lakers won’t get a star in return for him but could still get a solid player since he’s still producing.
Another reason a Gasol trade would be favorable is that the Lakers aren’t title contenders the way they’re currently configured. A change is sorely needed and L.A. can set a plan in motion to rebuild by getting a little younger with a trade.
Speaking directly to a Gasol-Chandler swap, it’s a move that could benefit both teams. Chandler is a downgrade offensively from Gasol, but he rebounds just as well, is a better defender, and is also about two years younger. With Gasol, the Knicks get a little more offense and also a chance to unload Smith if they can get the Lakers to bite. Los Angeles almost assuredly wants Shumpert over Smith, but they may need to include another player in the deal if they’re targeting both Shumpert and Chandler.
The move wouldn’t make either team an instant title contender, but could make each franchise a bit better.