The Los Angeles Lakers have been flipping around the idea of trading Pau Gasol for over two years. Just when it seemed like something might happen with the New York Knicks, a few good games from the Spanish center have changed everything back to stage one, which is keeping him until his contract runs out.
Gasol has been doing pretty well since Bryant has returned from his injury, including 21 points in their most recent win over the Grizzlies. That’s the most Gasol has scored in almost a month. The Lakers are pleased with what they’re seeing from him over the last few games, but it might be that not getting what they wished for from the New York Knicks had more to do with them deciding to stick with him.
But is trading him in general a good or bad idea? If you’r purely looking at contracts, then keeping him is the best thing for the Lakers, who are mostly worried about having as much cap space as possible heading into the offseason. Gasol being traded will obviously bring a contract or two that will last for more than this season, and the Lakers haven’t really found anything they’ve liked so far. The general feeling is that they don’t really want to think about next summer until they actually see the salary cap all cleared up, leaving them only with Nash and Kobe Bryant.
However, with the Lakers still hoping to make the playoffs, or at least they seem to be, having Gasol on the floor or on the team might not be the best of ideas. They don’t really have inside scoring on the team, but the franchise’s decline over the last three years has been in direct correlation with Gasol becoming less and less efficient on the offensive floor, as explained brilliantly by Drew Garrison from SBnation.
This season, for the first time in years, the Lakers are much better when Gasol isn’t playing, although he is averaging 30.3 minutes a night so the numbers are obviously slightly skewed. Stats, analytics or not, the Lakers right now are sticking with their old guard, which means Bryant and Pau, to try and bring them into the top 8, although there won’t be too many sad faces in Southern LA if the Lakers don’t make it in, coming up with a lottery pick from this season.