Hot! Why the Lakers Should Trade Pau Gasol

Is Pau Gasol on the verge of being dealt out of LA?
– Photo courtesty of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images and Bleacher Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They entered the season with high expectations, yet 18 games into the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are 8-10 and would fall short of a playoff birth if the season ended today. There is plenty of time to turn the season around, but given how much has changed, maybe they aren’t as elite as advertised.

Mike D’Antoni has struggled to a 3-5 record since taking over as head coach and while the team as constructed can be competitive, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned. The point guard position is in disarray as Steve Nash has battled injury all season long and has yet to make an impact. His backup, Steve Blake, is also battling injury, leaving Chris Duhon as the current starter. Dwight Howard (18.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG) is giving it his all, but his inability to sink free throws gives weak teams like the Orlando Magic a chance to beat them, as they did this past Sunday. Kobe Bryant has put up huge numbers (27.9 PPG, 4.9 APG, 5.3 RPG), but at his age it will become increasingly more difficult for him to carry the team on his back.

Unfortunately, few of these problems can be fixed through anything other than patience while injuries subside and team chemistry improves, but there is one problem that can be fixed right now. That problem is Pau Gasol, whom the Lakers have made clear they will trade if his play doesn’t improve in D’Antoni’s system.

Since D’Antoni has taken over, Gasol has been benched and has seen his production and involvement decrease, with little indication that his relationship with his coach will improve anytime soon. Making matters worse is that in his last six games, forward Antawn Jamison has averaged 29.7 minutes per game and is making the most of his increased playing time (16.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG).

In short, the evidence suggests that Pau Gasol is the one player the Lakers can afford to trade to send a message to the team and the fans that it’s time to improve.

The question then becomes which franchise can give the Lakers the necessary return in a possible deal to improve their functionality in D’Antoni’s system. D’Antoni runs an aggressive run-and-gun offense focused on moving the ball up the court quickly. His system stresses the first player with an open look should take the shot. It’s for this reason that the Lakers should seek an athletic power forward who is able to create space, execute the pick and roll, and shoot from mid range.

Does this description sound familiar Knicks fans?

The Phoenix Suns were among the league’s elite when Steve Nash was paired with a certain player who is a star power forward and fits D’Antoni’s system perfectly. Perhaps he may have even worn out his welcome with his current team.

The man the Lakers should look to replace Pau Gasol with in a trade is none other than Amar’e Stoudemire.

Stoudemire has yet to play this year but it has been reported that he should be ready by Christmas Day, and the more that the idea of trading Gasol for Stoudemire sinks in, the more it makes sense.

With Dwight Howard at center, the Lakers don’t need much help defensively from their power forward slot, so Stoudemire’s defensive shortcomings would not be an issue for the Lakers. Yes, Stoudemire is recovering from an injured knee, but Pau Gasol has suffered through his own knee injuries this season and at age 32, he is older and slower than Stoudemire, 30. Stoudemire is a much better fit in a fast-paced system like D’Antoni’s, and remember, he is only two years removed from playing in the Big Apple under D’Antoni where he was once serenaded with chants of, “MVP! MVP!”

Knicks coach Mike Woodson runs an offense that requires its players to pass the ball unselfishly, patiently dissect the defense, and let the player with the best look take the shot. Carmelo Anthony is arguably the best scorer in the league, so he often is given more freedom to do what he wants with the ball the way that Gasol’s current superstar teammate Kobe Bryant does.

Therefore, Gasol has proven he can fit in an offense that features a star, so his on-court relationship with Anthony should not be a concern. Even with Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace, the Knicks would certainly benefit from adding a dynamic 7-footer such as Pau Gasol to the lineup. He would help take some pressure off of Tyson Chandler, and considering how often Chandler gets chances to score in the paint, imagine how much a player with the offensive prowess of Pau Gasol can provide in this system.

Such a trade would lead to fewer headaches for both teams, who would gain a star player more appropriate for their current systems. The questions of Stoudemire disrupting the Knicks’ floor chemistry, his effort on defense and his willingness to serve as a sixth man would all vanish. For the Lakers, questions about Gasol and D’Antoni’s relationship, as well as his ability to fit into D’Antoni’s system would be eradicated.

Given Stoudemire’s proven success under D’Antoni and alongside Steve Nash, the Lakers would be wise to at least consider a trade with the Knicks.

Besides, this idea must sound better than Kobe’s plan to get the Lakers going.

 

Author

Nicholas Kostopoulos

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