Lakers Nation Roundtable: Should the Lakers Trade Pau Gasol?

This week’s Lakers Nation roundtable is short and sweet, but anything but simple: should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol? It’s been a hot topic lately, so we had our writers give their take on the topic.

Elizabeth Benson (@Gobibs): The trade talk surrounding Pau Gasol has been rampant for the last season and has picked up steam this year. To put it simply, I do not think the Lakers should trade Gasol right now. First, in my opinion there are no realistic options out there in the market that hold equal trade value for Pau. Gasol is a solid shooter and remarkable passer for a big. Second, for the past couple of games, I have seen adjustments made by Mike D’Antoni to the rotation and to roles that have been productive. This is essential in my mind to get Pau more touches in the low post, where he is best.

These continued adjustments may take a little time to fully kick in since for almost a year and a half, former Laker coach Mike Brown moved Pau away from the basket, forcing him into a primarily mid-range shooter. Pau is capable from mid-range, but it’s not beneficial for him or the team for the long-term if he sets up shop at the perimeter. Third, I do not want to see Gasol traded from the Lakers until Steve Nash returns and they have some real playing time together. I think it is wise to wait and see what the Nash/Gasol combination can do together and how their play affects the team’s play. Therefore, I believe a Pau trade at this point is just too premature. Personally, I believe a more clear answer would appear near the trade deadline.

Daniel Mulitauopele (@DMuli08): Pau’s struggles have always been, to my understanding, mental. For someone who was once slated to be a doctor, it isn’t a reach to say that Pau might be an overthinker. And overthinking can spell doom in a game that centers on rhythm, timing, and aggressiveness. I don’t doubt that Pau is still a world-class baller, and I think his teammates believe the same. Adding in another unknown in a bag full of them doesn’t seem wise to me at this time. I think that when things become more stable, Pau’s already overactive mind will calm down a bit and let him just ball.

Jabari Davis (@LA_SportsTalk): My first instinct is to mention the absence of Steve Nash. Gasol, of all players, would benefit from the play-making ability of Nash. That said, the mix of players still has a “square peg, round hole” feeling now that Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy is being introduced. Due to his system’s absolute necessity for athletic/quick shooters at multiple positions, (then) Yes. I know it sounds a bit harsh and maybe even somewhat heartless, but I assure you it does not come without a heavy heart.

If you’ve followed my articles you know I have been the leader of the “use Pau properly” pack. I faulted the system(s) Mike Brown attempted to run. In walks Coach D’Antoni, and we were introduced to another system Gasol simply does not fit within. Let me be clear, Pau Gasol has been a fantastic part of the second half of Kobe Bryant’s career. My answer should not be taken as forgetting about all Gasol has done for the organization. It’s a matter of taking the next step to not only solidify this current roster’s championship aspirations, but further positioning themselves to be financially and strategically prepared for once Bryant decides to hang the Nike’s up for the last time. While I would much prefer for them to be able to maintain the Bryant/Gasol pairing throughout this run, I realize the current system simply doesn’t fit the parts, and Gasol is still the most viable and valuable trading asset.

Andrew Ungvari (@DrewUnga): The short answer is no and that’s because it isn’t a question of whether or not they should trade Pau but rather what can they get back in return? The perfect player would be someone who can do the things that Pau is being asked to do but hasn’t been able to do on a consistent basis, namely knocking down mid-range shots and making defense pay for double and triple-teaming

If it’s not too late.

Dwight. However their options are limited. Power forwards who can knock down 17-footers don’t exactly grow on trees. So if we’re talking about getting back Chris Bosh or David West, of course I’d be okay with trading Pau. But there’s a better chance of me suiting up for the Lakers this season than either of them. But If we’re talking about a knucklehead like Josh Smith or the oft-injured Amar’e Stoudemire then I say no way.

The bottom line is this team’s number one priority is winning a championship this season and next. I can’t see them making any kind of deal that could blow up in their face. It would have to be a deal that is practically guaranteed to make them better and presents very little risk. This is another instance where Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss should only make a move that makes them better and maintains flexibility post-Kobe. The Lakers will never trade Kobe. They have no plans to trade Dwight Howard or Steve Nash. They only have a couple first-round picks between now and 2019. That means Pau is really the only decent trade chip they have and sometimes the best trades teams make are the ones that don’t happen.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Well, this is an easy one for me as I recently wrote an in-depth article on why the Lakers should not trade Pau Gasol. Essentially, Gasol’s game isn’t exactly fit for Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced offense. I truly believe had the Lakers hired Phil Jackson, Pau Gasol would be flourishing once again, but the Triangle offense might have hindered Steve Nash. However, I don’t believe that all is lost with Gasol, either.  Right now, Gasol is playing away from the basket and, as Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times noted, is basically stuck on the perimeter delegated to shooting jumpers; which is not his game, either.
Why do I think the Lakers still need him? Because I don’t care how many points you can score by running up and down the floor, you still need a solid half-court game for big games and playoff games where the game slows down a bit. Kobe has an elite skill-set in every aspect of the game, and Pau Gasol has an incredible skill-set in the post—namely in half court sets. Dwight Howard is solid too, but doesn’t possess all of the skills—shooting, facing up, posting up, utilizing both hands, and passing—that Gasol does.
So how can Gasol be effective? First, D’Antoni needs to realize his personnel. He has an older team, and even if they trade Pau for someone faster and more athletic, it won’t be his Phoenix Suns of 2006. Additionally, the greatest exhibition of a run and gun team—the “Showtime” Lakers—featured great athletes, but also featured a slower, older seven-footer in the form of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It can work with a player like that in the lineup (I’m not comparing Gasol to Kareem’s greatness by any stretch, but just their athletic ability).
Therefore, D’Antoni should at least run a couple sets for Pau in the post to let him go to work and get comfortable, while putting Dwight on the perimeter briefly. Once Gasol gets double-teamed, have Dwight cut for an easy basket, or if the double never comes, Pau can easily work one-on-one against almost any defender in the league if he’s in his groove, and/or if not, Dwight will be right there for the offensive board. Secondly, Gasol should face up more, but closer to the basket a la Tim Duncan. Again, I’m not comparing Gasol to Duncan’s greatness, but Duncan is old and slow and is still effective in a somewhat upbeat offense.
At the very least, the Lakers shouldn’t trade Gasol because unless they can get back another skilled seven-footer, they’ll be giving up a lot of size since Dwight Howard is an under-sized Center at 6’11” (although he’s probably closer to 6’10”). Size has been the one constant advantage the Lakers have boasted over the league in recent years, and it has won them championships. Additionally, when Steve Nash returns, perhaps Gasol will be put in better position to make plays and/or score, instead of being delegated to picking and popping far away from the basket.

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