Paul Gasol was actually traded by the Los Angeles Lakers last off-season; until the league struck down the deal. Now with the Lake Show being ousted from the Western Conference Playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder and Gasol receiving a ton of criticism for his performance in that series, you can bet your sweet derriere that off-season trade rumors will once again run rampant regarding the Spaniard. Here are five trade possibilities and destinations where Gasol (who is due to make more $38 million during the next two seasons) could end up getting dealt to this summer.
Lakers Get: Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, 16th pick
Rockets Get: Pau Gasol, Andrew Goudelock/Darius Morris
Of all the scenarios, Gasol to the Rockets is the most reasonable for both parties. Houston nearly became Gasol’s home prior to this past season before the league squashed the proposed three-team trade so it would make sense for the Rockets to make another at him. Marcus Camby is a free agent and the team holds a team option on the final year of Samuel Dalembert’s contract so they have a glaring need inside.
This deal adds quality depth to the Lakers. Scola is that energy, tough, rebounding player who isn’t afraid to mix it up inside and replaces Gasol at power forward. Martin has sort of fallen out of favor in Houston and would add some scoring on the wing for the Lakers. He would also be a major asset to either pair up with Kobe or have lead the second unit. The 16th pick is an asset for the Lakers to become younger and possibly address their need at point guard. L.A. would probably love to pry Kyle Lowry from Houston but I don’t think the Rockets would be willing to part ways with Lowry especially since his back-up, Goran Dragic is a free agent.
Lakers Get: Steve Nash, Channing Frye
Suns Get: Pau Gasol, Steve Blake
This deal would have to come via a sign-and-trade since Nash is a free agent. The Lakers haven’t had a true distributing point guard in quite some time and even though he is nearing the end of his career, he still has a couple years of solid basketball left in his legs. Frye would be able to stretch defenses with his outside shooting and a temporary fill-in for Gasol at power forward. Depending on what contract Nash signed (let’s assume it’s around $10 million a year for two season), this deal would save L.A. about seven million dollars over the next two years.
Phoenix only does this deal if Nash tells them that he will not be returning to the team. Gasol would become the star player that the Suns will need to replace Nash and form a monster frontline with Marcin Gortat. Blake gives Phoenix a veteran point guard who could at least help fill the void by Nash on a short-term basis since the team really has no other options at the point.
The Lake Show gets a young point guard in Jennings who would take some of the ball-handling responsibility and scoring load off of Kobe’s shoulders. Gooden is a serviceable replacement for Gasol at power forward. This deal would also save the Lakers about nine million dollars in cap space each of the next two years.
As for the Bucks, Jennings is entering the final year of guaranteed money and then becomes a restricted free agent for 2013-14. There were already rumblings this past year about Jennings wanting to test the free agency market when his contract expires so if he is not willing to sign an extension, why not trade him and get great value in return. Milwaukee would get some needed size inside and could use their lottery selection on a point guard (Kendall Marshall, Damian Lillard?) to help replace Jennings. I am not sure Milwaukee would be willing to take on Gasol’s contract and rely on Beno Udrih as their starting point guard but you never know…
Lakers Get: Chris Bosh
Heat Get: Pau Gasol
Intriguing? Yes. Would either team actually pull the trigger? Probably not. Think about it though; Gasol would provide the Heat with some needed size and post scoring. Bosh adds some athleticism to the frontcourt and would be a dangerous weapon in pick and pop situations with Kobe.
Lakers Get: Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick, Glen Davis
Magic Get: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, future 1st round pick(s)
Landing Howard is the dream scenario for the Lakers. He is the superstar that could help rejuvenate the franchise and take some of the spotlight and pressure off Kobe. Redick and Davis would add some needed depth.
If Howard is reluctant to sign an extension despite him forcing out both the head coach and general manager, Orlando’s new management might panic and deal Howard. Replacing him with Bynum and Gasol would ensure they get two quality big men in return. Even though Ryan Anderson is the reining NBA Most Improved Player, he is a restricted free agent so the Magic could either try to sign-and-trade him or ink him to an extension and instead, turn around and deal Gasol or Bynum for other pieces.
NBA OFF-SEASON TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.