So, Pau Gasol wants to take his talents to Chicago (supposedly). Good for him! Too bad it’s not going to happen. At least not with the way things are currently structured.
The good news for Pau is that the Lakers seem more than happy to help him in his desire to leave Los Angeles. After all, they’re the ones who forced him out in the first place.
That’s where the bad news comes into play. The Lakers have sabotaged themselves from the start in their attempts to trade Gasol. That L.A. was able to find a taker in the Houston Rockets coming off of Pau’s poor playoff performance in 2011 was impressive. Now it will be a near impossible task to find a team willing to give up anything of any significance for a third option that has shied away from the spotlight in consecutive postseason showings. Mix in Mike Brown’s failed attempt to put Pau out on the perimeter and you’ve got yourself a devalued asset.
Which brings us to the real problem – Gasol’s salary.
Pau is under contract for another two years with a healthy $38-million coming his way. At one point there wasn’t much argument as to whether or not he was worth the price. The Spaniard was in the conversation for most skilled big man in the league and was the reason why Kobe Bryant eventually kept an Orange County address. Let’s not forget Kobe was prepared to jump ship prior to Pau’s arrival.
Now Gasol’s value as a second option comes with a caveat. You’re only going to get production out of him under the right circumstances. Gasol’s talent isn’t such that you can just drop him on the court and let nature sort it out. He needs to be in system that gets the most of his skills. Coach Brown proved that in painful fashion this season.
For the Bulls gaining Gasol would be a massive upgrade considering the only other guy that can get his own shot in Chicago is Luol Deng.
Speaking of Deng, he’s the guy the Lake Show would no doubt want as part of a Pau exchange. Too bad the Bulls are unlikely to part ways with their best perimeter defender. There’s also the issue of matching salaries and Deng’s deal is a few million shy of Gasol’s cap number.
So, just who would the Bulls like to move in order to acquire Gasol?
Carlos Boozer is by far the man most mentioned when it comes to Chicago trade talk. He’ got a phat contract that doesn’t match his production and you know they’d love to get a do-over on that deal.
If Mitch Kupchak is so desperate to have Gasol gone then the Boozer deal has got to be in the cards. But the common sense approach screams this is a bad move that won’t help the Lake Show in any way.
Aside from Deng maybe the only other play worthwhile for the Lakers would be Joakim Noah. Again, non-matching salaries combined with the fact that there’s no way Noah would fit in well with Andrew Bynum, at least not in the Mike Brown system for utilizing big men, makes that possibility a longshot.
About the only way it makes sense for the Lakers and Bulls to be trade partners is if a third party gets involved. Which then would bring us full circle to the original attempt to deal Gasol. That CP3 fiasco required three NBA franchises to make the trade happen. Something tells me it will take a similar effort again to get Gasol gone.
Hard to say what will happen. Unless Kupchak is quietly working on a monster move it doesn’t look like the Lakers will be able to get great value in trading Pau. The sad part is they have themselves to blame for this mess.