In his seventh season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol has been part of three trips to the NBA Finals, won two NBA championships, and has had his name included in countless trade rumors.
In 2011, Gasol was part of a three-team deal that would have landed the Lakers Chris Paul. At the time, the NBA owned the New Orleans Hornets and the trade was nixed for the now-infamous “basketball reasons.”
This season’s trade rumors had a different twist as the Lakers were shopping Gasol for immediate cap relief and future draft picks.
Had the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a deal, the Lakers at the very least would have received Andrew Bynum.
Bynum of course was drafted by the Lakers in 2005 and spent seven seasons with the team. He’s battled knee injuries throughout his career, but his contract flexibility was a big draw.
By acquiring Bynum before his contract became fully-guaranteed on Jan. 7, the Lakers were likely going to waive him and save approximately $20 million in luxury taxes.
What made the trade talks all the more intriguing is had the Lakers and Cavaliers struck a deal, it would have been the clearest sign to date that Lakers management has essentially given up on the season.
During a Wednesday interview with Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said of tanking, “That’s the worst possible message you could send to anybody anywhere.”
The Cavaliers and Lakers were unable to agree on terms and Bynum wound up being traded to the Chicago Bulls, which meant Gasol survived yet another round of trade speculation.
However, with the trade deadline not until Feb. 20, Gasol isn’t out of the woods just yet.
Gasol has been steadily declining over the course of the last three seasons and has been at odds with Mike D’Antoni on multiple occasions.
In the final year of a contract paying him $19.2 million, Gasol is an expensive player to keep on a team that is eight games below .500 and fading further into obscurity by the day.
But for a team that feels it is one piece away from competing for an NBA championship, trading for Gasol, even as a four-month rental, may be deemed worth the risk.
With the Lakers sinking by the day, it would be of no surprise for them to continue exploring trading Gasol. Although, if they are unable to find a desirable trade, they could simply keep Gasol until the season ends and elect to not re-sign him.
The final course of action may be unclear, but their appears to be only one resolution — Gasol no longer being a member of the Lakers past the 2013-2014 season.