Rewind back to Febuary 1st, 2008. I still remember that day like it was yesterday.
Returning home from school, I checked ESPN to see what made news in the sporting world that day (note: this was before information spread like wildfire with Twitter). To my surprise, a picture of Pau Gasol’s face plastered beside the STAPLES Center pops up.
In the trade, the Lakers gave up Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and two first round draft picks, and the rights to Marc Gasol to acquire the all-star.
At the time, it was considered one of the most lop sided traded in NBA history.
Stephen A. Smith said it best: “they gave up Kwame Brown? If you’re giving up first round picks and you’re a quality team in playoff contention, it really doesn’t mean that much. That’s number one.”
“Number two and more important. Kwame Brown is gone! Hollywood should be celebrating,” Smith continued.
Coach Phil Jackson had reacted similarly when Kornheiser asked him “when Mitch Kupchak came to you and said something like I can get you Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown, what did you say back?”
“No you can’t,” Jackson replied with a huge grin on his face.
Jokes aside, the “trade” made basketball sense for one team (the Lakers) and financial sense for the other (the Grizzlies).
The Lakers were coming off two consecutive first round exits to the run n’ gun Suns, and an emerging Andrew Bynum went down with an early season injury. Kobe publicly wanted out, unless management acquired a superstar to join him; Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal and Jason Kidd were amongst the names the Lakers targeted to attempt to appease Bryant. In short, things didn’t look so sunny in Los Angeles. The Lakers desperately needed frontcourt help as much as Skylar Grey and Eminem need a doctor.
In Memphis, the Grizzlies were stuck in limbo between perennial first round jobbers (three playoff appearances, zero wins) and watching the playoffs on TV annually. The Grizzles weren’t going anywhere with Pau as their centerpiece, and Wallace knew it, so he decided to blow the team up and create some cap space.
The trade satisfied the needs of both parties. The results speak for themselves.
Next: A Late Bloomer