If the Celtics are really interested in making a Gasol-for-Rondo swap, the Lakers should absolutely jump all over that. While I find it hard to believe they’d want to make this trade, the rumor has been persistent enough that it seems possible.
For the Lakers, they get the absolutely perfect point guard to play with Bryant in Rajon Rondo. He doesn’t need to shoot, and can drive and create for others. While they’ll have to eat O’Neal’s contract, it expires this summer, so little harm done. They also get a young JuJuan Johnson, who has shown some promise and could be a future role-player.
With the Celtics, they get the piece they wanted in Pau Gasol. With Gasol, I believe Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce give it one last shot and put everything they have into the remainder of this season. While they’d likely have to make a move for a point guard, a starting five featuring Gasol, KG, Allen, and Pierce is a title contender, which is what they want in Boston.
Lakers get: Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Jonny Flynn
Rockets get: Pau Gasol, Darius Morris
This trade is still the one I’m most enamored with. These two tried this trade with New Orleans involved, as we all remember. While it fell through, I was curious as to why the Lakers wouldn’t go back to the drawing table with Houston to get the same players they wanted to give up.
The Lakers get younger and better with this trade. While Scola is 31, Martin is just 29 and Flynn is 23. The Lakers have shown a lot of interest in Flynn in the past while he was with the ‘Wolves, and recently with the Rockets, so he would have to take the place that Goran Dragic held in the Chris Paul trade. Still, the Lakers get Scola to step in to Gasol’s starting spot, plus get two players who can come off the bench and immediately make the Lakers better.
The Rockets get Gasol, who can be a building block for this team. With a rather young team, the Rockets could benefit from a veteran big man like Pau Gasol. They could also go after someone this summer to create a title contending team.
Lakers get: Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich
Hawks get: Pau Gasol, Devin Ebanks, Mavericks 1st-round pick
This is the most interesting trade I came up with, most certainly. Similar to how the Lakers seem stuck in neutral, the Hawks sit at 1.5 games back of fifth place and 2.5 games up on seventh place. This trade would shake up both teams.
The Lakers not only get a piece for the future in Smith, they get a point guard for now. Hinrich is another point guard they’ve shown interest in and one that fits their needs. An above average defender, Hinrich would solve what has been the Lakers biggest weakness: stopping younger, more athletic point guards. Smith is very underrated and in Mike Brown’s defensive system, he and Bynum would create a formidable front line.
The Hawks not only get Pau and Ebanks, but a first round pick to pry away Hinrich. With Gasol, the Hawks have a forward who can fill in at center, if needed, but also provide a great line with Al Horford next season. Ebanks gives them a young player for the future and the Mavs first-round pick gives them another first-rounder in this deep draft class.
Minnesota Timberwolves/Denver Nuggets
Lakers get: Andre Miller and Kenneth Faried (DEN), Derrick Williams (MIN), 2013 1st-round pick from Minnesota
T’Wolves get: Pau Gasol (LAL), Rudy Fernandez (DEN)
Nuggets get: Martell Webster, Wes Johnson, and Anthony Randolph (MIN), Derek Fisher (LAL)
While the Minnesota trade possibility is interesting, it would require a third team as Minnesota can’t match Gasol’s contract without giving up half their roster. By bringing in Denver, each team offers up a little, but gets something in return.
The Lakers immediately start building for the future. Not only do they get both Derrick Williams and Kenneth Faried, both young forwards, but they get Minnesota’s first-rounder next year. On top of that, you get Andre Miller who is an expiring contract. In all, the Lakers would actually lose a significant amount of money in this trade, possibly freeing up space for Deron Williams or Dwight Howard.
The T’Wolves get a Spanish dream come true. Their big three would become Rubio-Gasol-Fernandez. Tell me the Spanish market wouldn’t be all over this team, and tell me the T’Wolves wouldn’t jump all over this idea. Add Kevin Love and Michael Beasley in that starting lineup and that’s a very good playoff team.
The Nuggets free up some cap space by ridding themselves of Andre Miller’s contract. Derek Fisher, one would assume, will retire this off-sesaon. Anthony Randolph is a restricted free-agent this off-season and Martell Webster has a team option for this summer. For a team in need of some young talent, freeing up cap space is huge.
All of these deals are nothing but speculation right now, but it’s a tough decision for the Lakers. Should they pull the trigger on a major trade that includes one of their best players? For now, there’s nothing to do but sit back, wait and see.