A couple of years ago there was an interesting idea of a trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks that involved Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki switching places. Time goes by, and free agency might mean that the two players will become teammates in more than just the Western All-Star team, possibly joining forces with the retooling Mavs.
Gasol might still be the All-Star he seemed to be until Mike D’Antoni became the head coach of the Lakers. Sure, knee tendinitis, overall declining talent around him and simply getting older has hurt the ability of Gasol, but there seems to be this feeling that in the right system he can still put up big numbers and be very helpful without frowning most of the time, while his defense will never be the same.
The Dallas Mavericks seem to have more cap space than any other would be contender. Sure, they have to decide how much they’re going to pay Dirk Nowitzki on his next contract and if to re-sign Shawn Marion, but the Mavs seem to be in a good position to make a nice challenge in the Western conference next season, hopefully finishing in a seeding that helps them go further than just one round in the playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony is probably their main goal, but some sources seem to point to a different direction for Anthony. The Bulls, even if it’s a more complicated signing in terms of finding camp space and trades, are where Anthony wants to land. The Mavericks? Nowitzki himself admitted it’s something of a pipe dream to land such a fantastic player, but they’re not resting all their plans on that happening.
So why not Gasol? It’ll give the Mavs an interior scorer they’ve been missing to complement Dirk Nowitzki nicely. It doesn’t exactly improve their defensive situation which was an issue last season, but Carlisle has the knowledge to design a system that makes them less leaky, knowing that the players will buy into it. It worked for a few games against the Spurs, and Gasol is an intelligent enough player to handle new assignments.
Unlike Anthony, Gasol won’t take too much cap space. He did make almost $20 million over the last few seasons with the Lakers, but he knows quite well that he’s not getting that kind of money anymore. There’s still a chance he’s willing to hear what the Lakers have to offer, but it feels like that ship has sailed. They don’t want him badly enough, while he is looking for a chance to win or contend for more rings. The Dallas Mavericks aren’t the only one who can offer him that possibility, but they’re a very intriguing option along with the Grizzlies and even the Bulls.