Let’s set aside our inherent disdain for anything and everything in a Miami Heat jersey (for just a moment), and consider the benefits of a Pau Gasol for Chris Bosh trade once the season is over. I know, it’s difficult, but at some point we are all going to have to face the fact that for various reasons, all signs point towards the Lakers moving Gasol over the summer. If the Heat are unable to seal the deal (again), you’d have to imagine
Remember that feeling we all had on February 1st, 2008? In case you’ve forgotten, that was the day the Lakers acquired a (then) 27-year-old PF/C named Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Although the Lakers were in the midst of an impressive stretch in the season, having just lost a burgeoning Andrew Bynum to a dislocated knee, GM Mitch Kupchak was able to swing just the deal that shifted the direction of each franchise. Memphis, while initially the butt of jokes across the league, was able to acquire Zach Randolph with the extra cap space, and found a steal in Pau’s younger brother, Marc Gasol. The Lakers, as we all know, went on a three-year Finals run, and solidified Kobe Bryant’s place in Laker history in the process.
If you’re wondering how the two big men compare, here are their career stats:
19.8 points 18.7 points
9.1 rebounds 9.2 rebounds
2.1 assists 3.2 assists
49% field goals 52% field goals
80% free throws 75% free throws
Both players started their careers on struggling teams, and both Gasol/Bosh suffered through playoff disappointment as the primary franchise player. Like Gasol, Bosh is often unfairly criticized for no longer putting up the same numbers in a 3rd-option role as he once did as the 1st option. If Miami’s recent struggles against Indiana/Boston in Bosh’s absence aren’t a true indicator of his actual worth, then I don’t know what could be. Gasol, by comparison, has completely disappeared in the last two post-seasons. That might sound harsh, but 12.5 points (per game, playoffs) on 43 percent shooting is not going to get it done, regardless of where you fall in the proverbial ‘pecking order’.
As mentioned, Bosh is four years younger than Gasol, and most importantly has played 5,074 less career minutes (23617 < 28691). Those figures don’t even include the unknown number of minutes Gasol has played during his international tenure (Spain). While most people were searching for answers as to why Gasol has faded over the last two post-seasons, I think the answer is fairly simple: He’s tired. Folks often make mention of the gargantuan amount of virtual miles Bryant has placed on his body. I would venture to say the attrition of three consecutive Finals runs, plus the time Gasol logs during Spain’s international play would understandably wear on his body.
Gasol will be 32 years-old on July 6th, and the new CBA does not permit the Lakers the luxury of carrying multiple aging stars that each make 20+ million dollars. Not if you aren’t in actual contention for a title, and not when you’re only lasting 4-5 games into the 2nd round of the playoffs. Wondering about Bosh’s deal? He’s slated to make slightly more than Gasol over the next two years, but he provides you with the type of shot in the arm Gasol once did. The reality is, although Bosh can post up, he is far more comfortable facing up, and even scoring off the dribble. Like Gasol, Bosh is a willing passer, and is seen as a good teammate.
If Bynum is going to remain in the post (which he should), the Lakers are going to have to find a player that better suits the current system. Bosh, inaccurate preconceived notions aside, is precisely that player.