What L.A. wants for Gasol (today, at least), and a trade rumor that makes sense!

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
6:12
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chad Ford report the Lakers are (surprise!) shopping Pau Gasol around the league "in an effort to acquire a top-10 pick in Thursday's draft. The Lakers also are seeking an established player along with the pick if they're to part with Gasol," they write.

No deal is imminent, says the report.

As noted yesterday, while a great young chip might do great stuff for the franchise's future, acquiring a high lottery selection for Gasol while still improving the team for next season is a difficult proposition. In the scenario described above, the "established player" is monumentally important. (Or, if you prefer, the Lakers could try to flip that high pick to another team for a guy more likely to contribute at a high level immediately. One more theory to throw at the wall about 24 hours before the first pick.)

Metta World Peace, they note, is also being shopped aggressively. Good luck with that.

In other news, Stein reports the Clippers are kicking the tires on Lamar Odom, discussing trade options with the Mavericks for the former Sixth Man of Year in scenarios possibly containing a Lakers-related wrinkle. Writes Stein:
"Yet the deal, sources said, could hinge on the willingness of a third team to take on the contract of Clippers veteran guard Mo Williams, which would allow the Dallas Mavericks to send Odom to the Clippers with no significant money coming back to the Mavericks."

One team expressing interest in Williams is the Lakers, who could absorb Williams' $8.5 million salary into the trade exception created by shipping Odom to the Mavs last year. Unlike most trade rumors, this one actually makes sense on a few levels.

For example:

  • Williams has through most of his career been a credible perimeter threat, reliably hitting a hair under 40 percent year-to-year, and in two seasons playing with LeBron James -- around whom others get a lot of spot-up jumpers -- Williams was over 43 percent. In their current construction, at least, the Lakers badly need players capable of spreading the floor.
  • Mike Brown knows his game, and Williams knows Brown's goals as a coach.
  • While Williams makes a decent chunk of change next year, acquiring him gives the Lakers flexibility and could potentially even save them a little money. With Williams on the roster, the pressure to give Ramon Sessions a longer term deal, likely worth more overall than the money owed Williams for next season, would be mitigated. The Lakers could also acquire Williams and re-sign Sessions, then try to move Steve Blake or amnesty him if they can't (though they'd probably prefer to use their amnesty provision on a player making more than Blake). Even if they're stuck with all three, the financial impact of Williams is temporary, and comes before the new CBA's SuperTax! kicks in.
  • Williams would become a valuable expiring deal at the trade deadline, no small consideration for a team short on moveable assets.

It's not a perfect arrangement. Williams scores, but his shot selection has always been questionable. Defensively, he's average at best (the Clippers were five points better without him on the floor than with last season). Durability is a concern. Frankly the difference between the two won't make or break the Lakers, but given a choice between Sessions and Williams, an argument can be made for Sessions. Having both, though, would definitely constitute an upgrade, giving the Lakers more firepower and flexibility than available last season. Williams is better than anyone they'd find in the free-agent market, and about as good a player as can be had with an exception.

In the end, I doubt it happens. But at least as the NBA dives into the deep end of the silly season pool, Lakers fans can for a change bat about a scenario making some sense.

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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