While the deal is not considered dead, ESPN reports it’s definitely in need of resuscitation if the Cavs are to meet their goal of dealing Bynum before his entire $24 million contract he inked with the team last summer becomes guaranteed on January 7.
According to sources, the sticking point appears to be the Lakers’ demands of additional assets beyond Bynum’s team-friendly contract. Even though L.A. could save as much as $20 million in salary and luxury tax obligations if, as widely expected, they move to instantly waive Bynum, the team also remains growingly intent on securing either a young prospect or first-round draft pick as part of the deal.
As per NBA trade rules, the Cavs would almost certainly have to add at least one more player to any trade involving Gasol for Bynum in order to make the deal work financially. Still, what the Lakers are now demanding seems to strike Cavs’ management as being too steep.
With both teams mired in six-game losing streaks, both organizations are desperately looking to jump-start their seasons, particularly the Cavs who, despite being just 10-21, still believe they have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs for the first time in four seasons in the vastly watered-down Eastern Conference.
Despite all their struggles, which now include star guard Kyrie Irving being listed as day-to-day nursing a knee injury and multiple reports of locker room strife between Irving and backcourt mate Dion Waiters, the Cavs currently stand as the tenth seed in the East, just three games behind Boston for what would be the conference’s last playoff spot. In the Central Division, they also trail second-place Detroit (14-19) by just three games.
Meanwhile, being the veteran that he is, Gasol has gamely tried to take all the chatter in stride.
“If something happens, so be it,” he recently told ESPN. “If it doesn’t, I’ll just try to do a better job of trying to help our team have the best chance possible. It’s kind of out of my control. I’d like to continue to be here. It’s been my home for the good and the bad and everything else. I can’t control what ownership and the franchise want to do in moving forward. We’re struggling right now, and that doesn’t help.”