Los Angeles Lakers: Trade Rumors

Lakers mulling what to do with Pau

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
1:27
AM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPN.com
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The Los Angeles Lakers have been weighing the benefits of holding on to the perpetually dangling Pau Gasol for the rest of the season to maintain his Bird rights this summer, against trading him before Thursday's trade deadline, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The Lakers have been one of the more active teams in advance of Thursday's deadline as they gauge the market for Gasol and veterans such as Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. With their record at 18-35 heading into Wednesday's game against the Houston Rockets, it makes little sense to pay luxury taxes and be in line to pay the more punitive repeater taxes in the future.

However, sources said the Lakers have remained resolute in every trade discussion not to trade Gasol without acquiring an asset in return, and that there is a growing sentiment within the organization that it could be more valuable to hold on to Gasol and his Bird rights as he becomes a free agent and the organization has substantial room under the salary cap for the first time in years.

The Lakers have stayed in contact with the two teams who had earlier showed interest in the four-time All-Star -- the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers -- but sources said none of those discussions has made substantial progress.

On Tuesday, CBS Sports reported the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks were trying to assemble trade offers for 2015 prospective free agent Kevin Love, but thus far the Minnesota Timberwolves have given no indication they'd consider any such deal before the deadline.

The Lakers did inquire about Minnesota's interest in teaming Gasol with his Spanish countryman Ricky Rubio recently, according to a source, but those talks did not progress.

The Charlotte Observer reported the Charlotte Bobcats have been in contact with the Lakers about Gasol as they try to make a playoff push this spring.

The Suns had backed away from talks with the Lakers earlier this month when the 33-year-old suffered an injured groin that has kept him out for the past six games. Gasol had averaged 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds in January before the injury. He practiced Tuesday and is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game.

The original construction of the talks between the Lakers and Phoenix involved injured center Emeka Okafor, who is owed $14.5 million in salary this season. While that falls well shy of Gasol's $19.3 million, it is allowable because the Suns are $5.6 million under the salary cap. A trade for Okafor's expiring deal would save the Lakers $4.8 million, but still leave them approximately $3 million over the luxury tax threshold.

The Lakers have concurrently had talks about Kaman, Hill, Blake and several other players. Sources confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk that Brooklyn and the Lakers have had trade discussions about Hill. The Nets have a $5.25 million Disabled Player Exception through March 10 that they were granted for losing Brook Lopez for rest of the season in December. But the Nets -- already possessing a payroll that will cost roughly $190 million this season -- would take an additional luxury tax hit of more than $15 million if they used it to absorb Hill's salary. The Hill discussions were first reported by Yahoo Sports.

Has the Dwight Howard calculus changed for the Lakers?

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
4:48
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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As the Dwight Howard saga rages on, one thing has gone from pretty much obvious to abundantly so: Howard wants to go to Brooklyn, and only Brooklyn.

So with that in mind, are the Lakers in better shape now to bring him to Los Angeles?

Very possibly.

As ESPN.com's John Hollinger notes (Insider required), thanks to months' worth of wishy-washiness and poor execution culminating in his decision last spring not to enter free agency this summer, Howard's master plan appears to be crumbling around him. And that was before this afternoon's bombshell: The Nets have a deal in place to acquire Joe Johnson from Atlanta. Setting aside for a moment the wisdom of the trade from Brooklyn's perspective -- while Johnson is a very good player, he's south of elite, north of 30 years old, and due an astonishing $90 mil over the next four years -- his addition combined with the re-signing of Deron Williams (they hope) and a re-signed Gerald Wallace would reportedly shut the door on Howard in Brooklyn. As for a trade with the Nets, if the Magic wanted some sort of package built around Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks, it would have happened by now.

As one source told ESPN.com, "Dwight blew it in March."

Howard made it clear the Nets were the only team with whom he'd sign an extension in a trade, a threat designed to keep other teams from making a deal with Orlando. Now his one-and-only destination appears to have denied him an entry visa. For the Lakers, that completely changes the calculus surrounding a potential Howard-for-Andrew Bynum swap. Before, the risk of sacrificing Bynum only to see Howard bolt after one season to the place he said all along he wanted to go was a lot to stomach. Without Brooklyn in play, it's a different ballgame. Suddenly, the idea of making a career with the Lakers becomes an easier sell, particularly since if they did swing a trade, L.A. would have the ability to give Howard far more money than anyone else.

The Lakers would have a much easier time calling Howard's bluff at the end of next year. A max deal combined with some winning, excellent weather, and no better option makes for a decent Plan B.

From Orlando's perspective, Bynum still constitutes the single best player they'd get in return for Howard, and while (just as the Lakers would with Howard) the Magic would have to sign him to an extension, I don't see it as a problem. Remember, it was in reference to Orlando-centric trade rumors Bynum made his famous "bank in every city" quote. While I've never sensed he's hell-bent on leaving the Lakers, Bynum has also always given the impression he'd get over a trade in about 17 seconds.

There would still be plenty of potential peril. The Lakers won't be the only organization recognizing a new opportunity. Other teams, Dallas for example if they lose out on D-Will or (Howard's hometown) Atlanta now that Johnson and Marvin Williams have been cleared away, could jimmy around their rosters to make enough space to sign Howard outright after next season. Some wonder if so much sacrifice for a guy who appeared not to want to come to Los Angeles, and reportedly wasn't high on playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant, is worth it. There's a good chance he could leave.

Character wise, Howard has turned many off by the way he's morphed his exit from Orlando into a soap opera. Remember, too, he's coming off major back surgery.

On the other hand, assuming he's healthy, Howard is a dominant force in ways Bynum isn't yet. As a rule, in the NBA when you have a chance to pick up a top-five player, you do it and ask questions later. The other stuff can and likely will be forgiven, at least locally, if Howard helps push the Lakers back to the Finals. Talent is the ultimate olive branch.

Now that it appears he might have to settle for his less-favored options, it makes much more sense for the Lakers to push harder for a deal with Orlando, even if Howard won't sign an extension right away. The Lakers can more successfully call his bluff.

"Where are you going to go, Dwight?"

Would he have a good answer?

PodKast: Pau Gasol trade rumors, trade scenarios, and conspiracy theories

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
12:12
PM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Once the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs, it took about 16 seconds for the Pau Gasol trade rumors to once again start swirling. A report stating Gasol's desire to land in Chicago -- one he denied -- was the first in what surely will be a flurry of "Pau-to-________" chatter this summer.

We start the show talking about this rumor (3:00), and how fans should look at every one of these reports with a critical eye. Information is rarely put out by "sources" without a reason.



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Next, we talk about a recent piece from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard (Insider required), tossing out some hypothetical blockbusters, three of which involve Gasol or Andrew Bynum and returning stars from New Jersey, Atlanta, and Houston. (8:00) Are there big shakeups out there able to be realistically executed and also improving the team?

Finally, the Hornets won the NBA Draft Lottery Wednesday evening, and that means the conspiracy theorists who flock to the NBA like bees to flowers have something new to chew on. Is it possible the NBA rigged the outcome? (22:00)

Sources: Lakers trade Derek Fisher

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
12:58
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Wow. Didn't see this one coming.

The Lakers have traded Derek Fisher to Houston for forward Jordan Hill. In addition, they will send the pick acquired from Dallas in the Lamar Odom deal to the Rockets. The eighth selection in the '09 draft, Hill is an athletic 4/5 who can finish on the break, rebound, and block shots, but doesn't create his own offense or stretch the floor. He's a young asset, and in his third season has had some strong moments in the league. How he fits into the rotation is an open question, though he certainly could see minutes backing up both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and could prove a very handy fellow to have around. Then again, he might not play much.

But Hill is not the news, here.

Derek Fisher hasn't been productive for a while now, and with the acquisition of Ramon Sessions becomes completely superfluous, and even a potential political problem in the Lakers locker room. L.A.'s ideal rotation at the point would have Sessions playing starters minutes with Steve Blake backing him up. That would leave Fisher on the bench, a place where he (understandably) wouldn't be happy. It would be a horrible setup, very difficult for Mike Brown to manage effectively. In the cold business of the NBA, you trade guys who can't help you but still cost money now and down the line, and that's what this is. The Lakers have no obligation to Hill next season, but would have owed Fisher over three million.

It's something that had to happen, but nonetheless feels strange.

On the court, frankly the Lakers lose very little losing Fisher. The transition comes is in the locker room. Beyond being Kobe Bryant's most trusted ally, Fisher was the ballast to Kobe incredibly strong personality. With Fisher gone, it will be interesting to see how Kobe changes his leadership style to accommodate the change, and who steps up into the leadership void. The natural candidate is Gasol, who moves up a rung on the locker room ladder. How this impacts his dynamic with Kobe will be something interesting to watch.

The bottom line is the Lakers, on a day where they have improved themselves significantly on the floor, also have set themselves up for a major adjustment off it.

Sources: Lakers acquire Ramon Sessions

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
10:47
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reports the Lakers have acquired point guard Ramon Sessions from the Cavs in exchange for their first round pick in 2012. The Lakers will also receive second year wing player Christian Eyenga, and in addition to the pick will send out Luke Walton and his Everlasting Gobstopper contract to Cleveland, along with Jason Kapono.

This, people, is a very, very good deal, for the following reasons:
  1. Sessions is a major upgrade for the Lakers at point guard. He's averaging 10.5 points and 5.2 assists per game in only 24.5 minutes. To this point in the season, L.A.'s PG's have averaged 12 points a game as a group, the lowest figure in the NBA. Needless to say this sort of production makes a huge difference. More importantly, he has a skill set badly needed by the Lakers, namely an ability to run the pick and roll, penetrate from the wing, and finish from the basket. Derek Fisher and Steve Blake average about one shot a game at the rim between the two of them. Even when they're in the paint, they're not a threat to score. Sessions absolutely is, which will change the way defenses have to address Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol down low.
  2. The Lakers preserved their trade exception. Meaning whether now or down the line, the can find a player (or players) able to upgrade the roster at other positions. They also retain another pick in this year's draft, which they can either use or flip as needed. Moreover, by moving Walton, they're able to absorb Sessions' salary this year and next, should he decide to pick up his $4.5 million player option.
  3. They've taken pressure off Kobe Bryant. By having another player on the floor who can reliably direct the offense, distribute to the bigs, and is a threat to score, Mike Brown and Co. will have much more freedom to move him away from the ball, creating better and more efficient shot opportunities. Meanwhile, you can still run the Bryant/Gasol/Bynum pick-and-roll sets that have been so effective for the Lakers this season.

Questionable outside shooting (until this season, at least) and an underwhelming defensive profile mean Sessions isn't an elite level point guard. If he was, a first round pick and Luke Walton wouldn't have brought him here. Except the Lakers don't need that. On a per minute basis, Sessions has always been a very productive player, and even if he's merely league-average he will elevate the rotation in tangible ways.

There are a few potential issues. If the Lakers end the day with both Blake and Fisher still on the roster, Brown will have to figure out how to work his rotation. From a pure basketball standpoint, Sessions would receive the bulk of the minutes backed up by Blake, and Fisher would pile up DNP's more nights than not. On the Lakers, that presents a few political problems that could impact the team dynamic. But this is the sort of thing that can be worked out. Brown will also have to get Sessions up to speed defensively very quickly. Again, that's something that can be done.

The bottom line is this: The Lakers, without giving up any truly significant assets and retaining the significant advantage provided by two immensely skilled seven footers inside have improved themselves at their greatest weak spot. If Sessions performs as expected, he pushes them very near the top of the Western Conference. Are they better than Oklahoma City? I'd still say no . . . but they're a lot closer, and have given themselves a legitimate chance to make a run this postseason.

Well played.

Sources: Lakers closer to acquiring Michael Beasley

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
12:14
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin has the story:
"The Lakers revisited talks to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley on Wednesday, multiple league sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com. Several variations of the trade have been discussed. One would land Beasley on the Lakers in a three-team deal that would send Portland Trail Blazers guard Jamal Crawford to the Wolves and Luke Ridnour from Minnesota to Portland. Los Angeles would give up one of its two 2012 first round draft picks in the deal and use its $8.9 million trade exception, acquired when it traded Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks in December, to absorb Beasley's approximate $6.3 million salary. Portland would also receive the Lakers' first round pick.

As of late Wednesday night no deal was completed, but a source familiar with the negotiations said, "the sides have momentum."


The Oregonian earlier reported another version of the deal without Ridnour and including Lakers guard Steve Blake who played three seasons for the Blazers from 2007-2010 and who still keeps his offseason home in Oregon. Blake played 18 minutes in the Lakers' 107-101 overtime victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday, however, and told reporters before the game, "I'm still here," but did not speak to the media after the game."

Beasley would definitely add a huge dose of scoring punch to the bench, at both forward positions. Obviously, though, there's a huge difference between a deal sending Blake out and one in which the Lakers absorb Beasley in their cap exception. If Blake goes, the Lakers almost certainly have to acquire another point guard or be left with a rotation of Derek Fisher, Andrew Goudelock, and Darius Morris. That won't get it done.

Either way, with 12 hours left before the deadline, things appear to be percolating.

Howard says he wants to stay in Orlando through the season

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
8:57
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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UPDATE (10:41 am PT)- ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reports the Magic are, in the wake of Howard's comments last night, more open to moving him unless he makes some sort of commitment to Orlando. "Dwight Howard's public plea late Tuesday to remain in Orlando for the rest of the season has only served to anger the Magic and has instead pushed them closer than ever to trading their superstar center, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation," writes Broussard. While I suspect any deal would likely land him with New Jersey -- I can't imagine a team like the Lakers giving up real value absent a commitment from Howard not likely coming -- it looks like Howard's comments may have goosed the trade market in a few ways.)

The ever-developing developing Dwight Howard story developed ever more Tuesday night, when after the Magic beat Miami in Orlando, the All-Star center said he hopes not to move before Thursday's trade deadline. Reports ESPN.com's Michael Wallace:
"Howard, who is in the middle of wide-ranging trade speculation, said he has talked with Magic owner Rich DeVos and other front-office executives about his desire to stay for the past two weeks. But Howard would not commit to signing a long-term contract extension and could opt out of his deal to enter free agency in the summer.

"We've been talking, like I said, for a while," Howard said after leading the Magic to a 104-98 overtime home victory against the Miami Heat. "I told them I want to finish this season out and give our team, give our fans some hope for the future. But I feel they have to roll the dice. It might be tough, but I feel we've got a great opportunity. But they've got to roll it."

This benefits a few people. First, LeBron James, because even he of "taking my talents" fame cringed at Howard's horrendous "roll the dice" line. It also benefits Howard, since the prevailing opinion is he wants to stay only so he can then opt out in July, and sign with a more fully stocked Nets team.

The Lakers haven't seemed like true players in the Howard sweepstakes in a while, but his comments Tuesday night could add some clarity to the hours leading up to the deadline and serve to loosen up what has to this point been a pretty quiet market. If teams still interested in Howard (and by extension, teams waiting on teams still interested) feel he's staying put for now and the jump to Brooklyn is inevitable, they can start looking at respective plan B's more earnestly.

The trade deadeline cometh: Three basic choices for the Lakers

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
7:33
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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What's been circled for months with a giant Sharpie on a giant calendar is finally here, more or less. Thursday marks this season's NBA trade deadline. That's March 15 (beware!) to you and me.

It's a huge day for the Lakers, not just in how it shapes the fate of this season's team, but what it might say about the direction of the franchise this summer and beyond. Nothing in sports is completely cut-and-dried (including everything you'll read below) and because the Lakers can't make teams agree to trade with them on fair terms or force free agents to sign, matters of player personnel aren't totally in their control. But as I see it, the Lakers have three basic courses of action from which they can choose in the very and reasonably near futures.


Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
Will he stay (for a while, at least) or will he go? Pau Gasol finds out this week.


Each position has merit, but no matter what side of the fence you fall, the Lakers have some very difficult choices to make now and down the road.

1. Go for broke this season.

PRO -- In the great high rise of roster construction, the Lakers' penthouse is filled. They have three All-Stars, giving them an elite player on the wing along with size and skill in the frontcourt most teams can't match on either side of the floor. They have some reasonably capable role players occupying the bottom floor apartments, as well. The problem is the vast empty real estate in between. An improvement at point guard and the addition of reliable bench scoring (to name two things) could have profound benefits, and can be addressed without moving superstars. Not only would the Lakers tick some empty skill-set boxes, but opposing defenses would be less able to load up on L.A.'s Big Three, comfortable knowing that (more often than not) nobody else can make them pay with any sort of consistency.

CON -- The Lakers aren't exactly rich with high-end assets outside Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. L.A. has a generous traded-player exception and an extra (likely late) first-rounder, thanks to the Lamar Odom deal. Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris and Devin Ebanks have some appeal, but aren't high-end prospects for whom teams move mountains. This creates a few complications. First, there's no guarantee the Lakers have enough good stuff to get a Ramon Sessions-type if another team wants that player more. Not without overpaying, at least. Second, chips cashed in smaller deals can't be used in a potential blockbuster, whether at the deadline or beyond. Third, for an aging team with a closing window, there's a price to pay for giving away access to cheap, young talent. Trading picks and prospects extends the deal with the devil L.A. has been making for a few seasons.

Fourth, there's a very real chance the Lakers could make the moves and still not win, leaving them facing a still-uncertain future with fewer assets available.

2. Hold tight for a superstar.

PRO -- Obviously, it could be a smokescreen, but Orlando continues to say it won't move Dwight Howard at the deadline, and there are plenty of compelling reasons for them to hold tight. As long as Howard is in play, so is Deron Williams.

(Read full post)

PodKast: Trade deadline, LA's hopes and the best MC's of all time

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
12:27
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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With the trade deadline only about a week away, things are getting a little tense. There are still a litany of questions yet to be answered, and not much time to do it. So with that in mind, we welcomed ESPN Radio's Ryen Russillo to the show. It was a busy show, covering a lot of ground. It should also be noted we recorded before the road losses against Detroit and Washington. Obviously, those results would have otherwise been a topic of discussion.

The highlights:
  • What do the Lakers need at the deadline, and whether they should move Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum to get them filled.
  • How real is the push in Boston to trade Rajon Rondo? (7:00)
  • What real trade -- meaning something not totally one sided and absurd -- would you make including Bynum or Gasol? (13:15)
  • Even if they make moves filling in the middle of the roster, Russillo thinks the window on this group has closed. (19:00)
  • Does the fact the Lakers have become so money conscious show the new CBA is working as intended? (26:00)


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From there, we get into an extended conversation about the MC Bracket Russillo and Scott Van Pelt are running as part of the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio -- 64 contestants in all, with the regions broken up into the Dirty South, West Coast, East Coast and 8 Mile. As hip hop isn't my strong suit, most of the deeper opinions are delivered by Russillo (who knows his stuff) and AK (who knows more than me -- hard to believe, but I'm actually less "street" than I look).

But we encourage everyone to click the links above and vote. Just vote responsibly.

The Forum: L.A. turns down Beasley, looking ahead at the deadline

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
9:47
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Dave McMenamin joins us as we answer a pair of questions:

Report: Lakers reject offer for Michael Beasley

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
4:21
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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After he dropped 27 points on the Clippers last night, we were hit with a ton of tweets and questions in today's chat about when the Lakers would bring in Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. According to ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, apparently they already could have, but passed, rejecting an offer from Minnesota of Beasley for a first-round draft pick. The second pick of the 2008 draft makes just over $6.2 million this season, but could have been absorbed into the trade exception created by the Lakers in the Lamar Odom deal.

There are any number of totally valid reasons the Lakers wouldn't bite, despite an acute need for help at small forward and additional scoring punch. They could be frightened by Beasley's questionable maturity, or negative aspects of his game, and believe he's a bad fit. Maybe they prefer other targets, and need that pick to make a different deal. Perhaps, as some suspect, they're holding on to every asset they have until Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams have signed new contracts, even if it means standing pat into the summer.

What will frighten fans, though, is the one cited by Broussard -- money:
"...With one of the league's highest payrolls at roughly $88 million -- well above the luxury tax threshold of $70 million -- the Lakers are due to pay $18 million in taxes this season. Since there is a dollar-for-dollar penalty for tax-paying teams, taking on Beasley's $6.2 million contract would add another $6.2 million to their tax bill and cost the Lakers an extra $12.4 million.

The Lakers' decision falls in line with their decision to trade Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for an $8.9 million trade exception in December. While Odom asked to be traded after finding out the Lakers put him in a foiled trade attempt to get Chris Paul, the Lakers' chief motivation for trading Odom was to chop their payroll and to save money.

Under the new revenue sharing plan in the recently adopted collective bargaining agreement, the Lakers will pay a bundle and because of that, owner Jerry Buss is no longer willing to spend so freely in going above the luxury tax, according to sources."

(UPDATE- 7:00 pm PT: 710 ESPN's John Ireland, who also serves as the team's radio voice, reports that a source inside the organization says the proposed deal was for both of L.A.'s first round picks, not just the one. Obviously that would change the equation substantially, making the trade far less appealing. However, he also indicates the financial concerns regarding this and other trades are real, and that the Lakers are hesitant to bring in salary without sending some out the door, which fits well with the concerns illustrated below.)

(Read full post)

Mitch Kupchack issues statement

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
9:46
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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After Kobe Bryant delivered his strong comments following Sunday's loss in Phoenix regarding the limboriffic status of Pau Gasol -- either trade him or make it clear he's staying, but pick one already -- I figured they wouldn't change much in terms of how the front office approached a potential trade. Whatever timeline Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have for whatever moves are coming won't be altered. Before Monday's game, Kupchak issued the the following statement:
“As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player. Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come. To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans."

Loosely translated, "We're going to do what we're going to do when we do it, and we're not going to talk about it."

Which is what you'd expect. As Kupchak says, the Lakers gain nothing by committing one way or the other, or, frankly by discussing it. Secrets are very tough to keep in this industry. So going forward, little changes. When the Lakers and Gasol play well, the significance of Sunday's events will be diminished (with some causation/correlation confusion added in, I'm sure) and they'll be praised for properly compartmentalizing. When they/he don't, the trade talk will be called a distraction. Reality, as it generally is, will be somewhere in between.

Everyone wants clarity and resolution, but odds are it won't come before the deadline, if it comes at all. There's no guarantee we'll have an idea of the team's direction before the summer, for that matter.

Pau Gasol and the Trade Machine

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
2:23
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Last week, in the wake of that day's rumor-du-jour (to Minnesota for Derrick Williams and stuff) Pau Gasol told me he'd like some sort of resolution to the ongoing swap gossip swirling around him. Following L.A.'s loss to the Suns on Sunday in Phoenix, Kobe Bryant laid into management, saying essentially the same thing. Trade him or don't, but make a decision quickly. Don't let Gasol, or the team, twist in the wind.

I suspect Kobe's comments won't do much beyond making Gasol's mental state an even bigger focus between now and the deadline.


Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Would you want to see these guys switch jerseys?

Pau is a tough guy to trade. On the one hand, even in a "down" year, Gasol is averaging 16.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks a game. Last night, he put up 17/12/6, and after people were concerned about circumstances sending his game downhill. He's very, very good, and has a skill set most teams covet. Far too good to give away for a box of saltines and 15 basketballs.

On the other hand, he's 31, carries a pricey contract and still has a little image rehab to do following the end of last season.

Still, if everyone wants a resolution and the Lakers, as Gasol believes, are simply waiting for the right offer, what could the deals look like? Below are a collection of Trade Machine-approved swaps, many reflecting some of the very rumors causing all this controversy in the first place.

(A couple of notes: First, for simplicity's sake, I stuck to two-team deals with at least some degree of viability. Second, I tried to keep each deal boiled down to the key figures. Again, a nod to simplicity, and the clarity of a deal's essential components. Experiment with them as you please to appease the gods of equity. Finally, inclusion of a scenario is not necessarily an endorsement.)

TRADE 1: Lakers trade Gasol to Houston for Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic.

It's the deal everyone made before, right, cutting those pesky league-owned killjoy Hornets out of the loop? No, not really. That swap worked well for L.A. because they got back Chris Paul in the process. Houston's package nets them a lesser replacement at power forward whose numbers this year are down, an explosive scorer in Martin who plays the same position as Kobe and a score-first prospect at the point who represents an improvement over what the Lakers have, because almost anyone does.

Maybe the Lakers can flip the components for something else, but unless you think the Lakers win by adding more depth -- I'm a believer that, generally speaking, in the NBA the team getting the best player wins the deal -- I don't think this improves them.

Adding Kyle Lowry changes the equation, but Houston isn't doing that.

TRADE 2: Gasol to Chicago for Carlos Boozer and C.J. Watson

It would be interesting, because as worked up as the fan base can get over Gasol's perceived inadequacies few players have been more roundly mocked locally than Boozer, going back to his Utah days. Just about every criticism has been thrown his way, fairly or not. Offensively, the fit isn't bad. Boozer is skilled, and unlike Gasol doesn't pine for high-quality touches on the block, so he'd open things up for Andrew Bynum down low. On the other hand, except for rebounding, Boozer is an awful defender, and his short arms (for a 6-foot-9 guy) and earthbound game mean he alters very little inside (0.5 blocks per game). The Lakers would suffer defensively in the exchange. Plus, Boozer gets hurt all the time. Only three of his past seven seasons could be reasonably considered healthy, and he's owed a lot of money going forward.

The key would be Watson. Is he a starting-caliber PG who simply hasn't had the opportunity, or just a solid backup? I tend to believe the latter. For this trade to work, the Bulls would have to add sweetener. A package centered around Luol Deng might have appeal for the Lakers, but the metrics don't work as well for Chicago.

(Read full post)

Kobe Bryant to management: Make a decision on Pau Gasol

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
11:48
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If the Lakers thought the 48 minutes encompassing their loss Sunday night to Phoenix was unpleasant, they can find solace in the fact that come Monday, it won't be what people are talking about.


Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Sunday night in Phoenix, Kobe Bryant made it clear he wants to see a resolution to the ongoing Pau Gasol rumors.

Following the game, Kobe Bryant managed to change the subject in a big way, firing shots across the bow of management regarding the future of Pau Gasol. Among the highlights, via ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin:
"Basketball is such an emotional game, you got to be able to have all of yourself in the game and invested in the game. We didn't have that," Bryant said after Gasol had 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Suns. "Pau, it's hard for Pau because of all this trade talk and all this other stuff, it's hard for him to kind of invest himself completely or immerse himself completely into games when he's hearing trade talk every other day. I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him."

And...
"It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all. If they're going to do something, I wish they would just (expletive) do it. If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out, he can play and he can invest all of himself into the game."

And...
"I'm sure we'll make some tweaks here and there, but the foundation obviously starts with myself and Pau and the emergence of Andrew (Bynum). But you can't have one of our pillars not knowing if he's going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something... He's been the consummate professional. He's going out, he's trying to do what he can, but let's be real. If you didn't know you were going to be here tomorrow, if your head's on the chopping block, you feel like you're just waiting. It's tough to put all of yourself into the game."

Bryant's words echo some of the things Pau told me last week, he believes the Lakers still plan to trade him and would like a resolution one way or the other. In absolute terms, Bryant is also absolutely right. It doesn't help to have such an important player on the team distracted by off-court issues. The context of trade talks surrounding Gasol is unique, because he already has evidence the Lakers will move him following the failed trade for Chris Paul. It's not theoretical, making the rumors a lot harder to ignore. Gasol's situation is also different than, say, Andrew Bynum's, because while Drew has blown in the breeze of trade winds for years and has never expressed a burning desire to leave, he's also made it pretty clear it wouldn't crush him, either.

Gasol absolutely, unequivocally wants to stay.

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A 'unique' season for Pau Gasol

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
8:49
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Coming halfway through the fourth quarter Tuesday against Atlanta, the play itself was a display of fundamental basketball. A quick back-door cut from Kobe Bryant fed a perfectly timed bounce pass from Pau Gasol. As Gasol's man dropped off to help, Pau filled the vacated space about 8 feet from the bucket and Bryant almost instantly returned the rock. Gasol's baby J was true.

"We read each other well," Gasol said. "My man helped on the back door, he gave it back to me, and I was able to knock it down."

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Little has come this easy for Pau Gasol over the last year or so.


Good stuff for sure, but given the sheer volume of textbook two-man hoops delivered by the championship pairing since Gasol arrived in L.A., it was also unremarkable, save one thing: When it was over, the two headed back to the defensive end, and were smiling. Laughing, actually.

Since last year's All-Star break, we've seen a variety of emotions and expressions from Gasol. Fist pumps, bewildered looks at referees, primal screams, defeated hangdogging, and fatigue, just to name a few. But smiling?

No so much.

Lakers basketball has been a fairly joyless venture of late. Last year the team suffocated under the weight of three straight Finals runs, and compared to this season that on-floor product looked like something out of Showtime.

No player better personifies the atmospheric change around the Lakers more than Gasol. After a spectacular start to the 2010-11 season, Gasol ran into nagging injury issues as his minutes piled up. He earned an All-Star berth but lacked the metronome consistency to which fans had grown accustomed. Then came the postseason meltdown and a lockout-lengthened summer rife with questions about his ability to recover. When basketball finally returned, Gasol was traded to Houston, then returned by David Stern to Los Angeles, where he has remained high-end grist for the rumor mill.

"It’s been a unique season," Gasol said earlier this week. As rumors continue surfacing, Gasol said it still feels like the Lakers are simply waiting for the right offer, at which point he'll be in another uniform.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0