Maybe the Los Angeles Lakers are considering taking a year off after all.
How can one of basketball’s top franchises, with a roster led by Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, even consider the thought? This is the Lakers we’re talking about, the franchise with 16 championships.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio is reporting that the Lakers are again considering trading Gasol, potentially before the season opener. Amico’s report states that Gasol is “far from untouchable” and the Lakers are looking to get back a young scoring point guard in return.
After Dwight Howard’s departure in free agency, general manager Mitch Kupchak was faced with questions regarding the Lakers roster and with Bryant’s return uncertain, if he would entertain the idea of “tanking” this season.
Kupchak’s response to how he views the season? “No real expectations,” is what he told the media before training camp opened.
That was Kupchak’s way of not selling his team too low or too high. Even if Bryant returns and stays healthy, the Lakers still have an outside shot of making the playoffs, battling Minnesota, Portland, Denver and New Orleans for the last two playoff spots. How will some of the new guys like Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and former Laker Jordan Farmar fit in the Mike D’Antoni system? Will Gasol have a resurgent season, since he is back to being the focal big man in the offense at center? These are some of the questions the Lakers enter the season with.
In the preseason games so far, though it is a small sample size to go off of, Gasol and Kaman have played very well alongside each other in the frontcourt. Gasol, when healthy and the focal point of an offense, is still a top five big man in the game today.
Why would the Lakers want to trade him then?
At 34, he is a free agent after this season, so realistically, what could they get in return for him if they found a suitable trade partner? One player who would not be enamored with the trade is Bryant, who for the past two years has been one of Gasol’s biggest supporters in the public. Trading him severely decreases their chances of making the playoffs.
Though Bryant does not want to admit that this is a rebuilding year, trading Gasol would be beneficial for the team financially and also, only if they did receive a young player in return who is not as expensive, one who is worthy to keep on the roster after the season. The $19 million Gasol is scheduled to make this year could be an attractive trade chip to a team looking for cap flexibility next summer.
Gasol could be due for a huge season–in Los Angeles or somewhere else–as there are exactly 13 days until opening night. At this point, it is hard to imagine the Lakers following through on a trade, as Gasol trade rumors have existed since the summer of 2012.
If he is traded, you can add the Lakers to the list of teams supposedly being accused of “tanking.”