The Los Angeles Lakers still haven’t decided if they’re sorta tanking or actually giving it all to make the playoffs in the tough West. What’s becoming quite clear is Pau Gasol getting closer and closer to being traded, as his expiring deal might help the Lakers find some pieces they’re actually willing to keep for more than one season.
At the foundation of any trade the Lakers might try to pull off is their desire to keep some cap-space flexibility for the next three summers. This year they’ll have room for one more big signing after giving that extension to Kobe Bryant (they also have Steve Nash signed for one more season), and keeping things open for when Bryant’s next deal expires, so they’ll have the option of bringing in another max player.
There’s been talk about the New York Knicks and Tyson Chandler, but he’s owed $28.7 million over the next two season. There’s been talk about Carlos Boozer, the deal that everyone thought would be amnestied by now, but he’s owed $32 million over the next two seasons. There are other options for the Lakers, but it seems none of them give them that flexibility they need, or a player they’re willing to keep for more than one season.
One option are the Milwaukee Bucks. It seems the team is entering tank mode, and adding Pau Gasol won’t make them a playoff team all of a sudden, plus give them a player with almost $20 million of expiring cap space. Why should the Lakers make this deal? It might give them a chance to sign a stretch 4 like Ersan Ilyasova, who has overall been a disappointment with the Bucks (averaging only 8.1 points on 24.2% from 3-point range). The problem is that Ilyasova is signed until 2017 for around $8 million a season, kind of missing the initial point. There are also expiring deals like Caron Butler (making $8 million this season), Luke Ridnour ($4.3 million) or maybe Gary Neal ($3.3 million), but he’s signed until 2015. There’s something to work with, but only if the Lakers find someone on that team they’re willing to keep for more than a season.
Another team that might become available for a trade are the Los Angeles Clippers, although there might be some hesitance to deal with their city rivals. The Clippers might be willing to break up some of their strong bench in order to get an offensive minded center, but that would mean giving up on DeAndre Jordan and possibly Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley, which leaves them missing a small forward again, which makes this destination unlikely.