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Monday, February 1, 2010
Pau Gasol: The two-year anniversary


Two years ago today, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from Memphis for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, the rights to lil' bro Marc Gasol, and draft picks. Technically speaking, the traditional gift to honor this union would be cotton. Rather than buy him a stack of t-shirts, management instead went ahead and got him a three-year contract extension worth about $19 mil per, with which he's free to pick out garments of any material he chooses.


Who says cash is impersonal?

Nobody around town will begrudge Gasol his deal. Certainly not Kobe Bryant or Lakers fans, all of whom saw desires for more championships take a massive step forward the day Mitch Kupchak polished off the paperwork with Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace. It's difficult to overstate Gasol's value to the team, whether on the floor (the Lakers are still yet to lose three straight with him in the lineup) or off (Kobe hearts Pau and therefore hearts the organization once more). The guy fits into Phil Jackson's scheme like a hand-in-glove, and was the ingredient elevating the Lakers from a growing team with question marks to a perennial championship contender.

Yes, I'm a fan of Gasol's. A big fan. (Some campaign to release political prisoners. I'm thinking of starting one to raise Gasol's usage rate, currently 129th in the NBA, behind Andray Blatche and just ahead of Jrue Holiday and Marco Belinelli.)

The schedule makers certainly had some fun with this one, returning Gasol to Memphis this afternoon (5 pm PT, KCAL). Two years later, the deal seems to have worked for all involved, with the Grizzlies again in the playoff hunt thanks in part to Marc Gasol. Put it all together- the afterglow of Sunday's win over Boston, the anniversary of a very happy day in Lakers history, and the prospect of both Kobe (29 points shy of Jerry West) and PJ (tied with Pat Riley for coaching victories) reaching major historical milestones- and things are set up well for a red letter Monday in Lakerland.