Pau Gasol has been the hottest target for trade rumors so far this season. The 7-foot Spaniard has struggled to find his offensive rhythm under Mike D’Antoni’s offensive scheme, and is averaging career lows in points per game and field goal percentage.
Most recently, Pau Gasol revealed that he has been dealing with tendinitis in his both knees since preseason. He is currently listed as doubtful for the Oklahoma City Thunder game on Friday.
Gasol has been linked with a lot of different teams for possible trades, most of which are hypothetical and the result of pure speculation. Atlanta Hawks have been the most popular team in the rumor mill, and a potential Josh Smith for Pau Gasol trade has been regarded as highly probable. Ryan Anderson has also been reported as a player of interest to the Lakers.
Basically, any team that could give the Lakers a big body and a backup point guard in return for Gasol can not be ruled out of the equation. Teams like Toronto, Orlando, Minnesota and Golden State all have the necessary assets to potentially make a trade, but a Josh Smith for Pau Gasol swap would still make the most sense for both teams. Josh Smith has previously requested a trade, and being in the last year of his contract, he could very well walk away for nothing after this season.
Despite all the trade rumors, recent reports seem to indicate that the Lakers will not rush into pulling the trigger on a Gasol trade. According to NBA analyst Ric Butcher, the Lakers made a promise to Steve Nash that Gasol would stay with the Lakers, when they signed the point guard in the off-season. The Lakers have a lot of problems at this time, and potentially upsetting their star point guard by breaking the promise would only induce more drama to the situation.
Kobe Bryant has also been very open about his relationship with Pau, saying that he loves him like a brother. Kobe has been very consistent with his stance on a Gasol trade, and after the team’s loss to the Magic on Dec. 2, Bryant responded to the notion of potentially losing Pau:
As long as I’m here, we’re not going to lose him. That’s just not going to happen. I’ve been around him long enough, I know how to deal with him. – Kobe Bryant
It is worth noting that Bryant said pretty much the same thing prior to the Chris Paul trade last season, which would have landed Gasol in Houston, but was disapproved by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
While it seeems like Gasol’s status with the Lakers is changing on a day-to-day basis, it does appear as though the team will stay patient for now. With Steve Nash out, you can’t really fairly estimate how good this Lakers team will be. Gasol is having a terrible year so far, but has evidently played through pain and discomfort. The Lakers best call is to wait for Gasol and Nash to get healthy and see how the team progresses from there, rather than making any rash decision at this time.
According to an ESPN article, Minnesota and Toronto have approached the Lakers with potential trade offers for Gasol, but the team has refused to engage in negotiations.
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