Pau Gasol is the man with nine lives. Through all of the trade rumors, through all of the completed trades (BASKETBALL REASONS!), through all of the turmoil Gasol remains a Los Angeles Laker. It’s simply incredible. It has to have taken a toll on his psyche.
Pau Gasol is a Laker, for now.
At this point that statement is in the running to be the tag line of his career. It might be going on his Hall of Fame plaque someday. Pau Gasol is still a Laker because Mitch Kupchak is a shrewd negotiator who understands that Gasol should net the Lakers more Andrew Bynum’s body. Gasol is still a valuable player around the NBA and demanding another asset from the Cavaliers, whether it was a first round pick or Dion Waiters, was a smart decision by the Lakers GM.
However, news broke last night that the Cavaliers had traded away Bynum to the Chicago Bulls for SF Luol Deng, who’s contract expires after the season, and three future draft picks. The Bulls got a future first-round draft pick owed to the Cavs by the Sacramento Kings from a 2011 trade for J.J. Hickson. The Bulls will get the Kings’ pick if it falls outside the top 12 in 2014 or outside the top 10 picks in 2015, 2016 or 2017. The Bulls also got the 2015 and 2016 second-round picks the Trail Blazers owed the Cavs. In a final piece, the Bulls will be able to swap draft positions with the Cavs in 2015 as long as the Cavs’ draft pick is outside the top 14 picks. The Bulls will obviously waive Bynum and save themselves $15 million in the process.
The question for all Lakers fans is whether you believe the Bulls made a solid trade and whether that was the type of trade that was on the table for Gasol?
I don’t know about you but I had a mini-freak out moment when I heard about this trade. The Bulls got three future picks and got themselves basically under the luxury tax. That should have been the goal for the Lakers. Look, I myself wanted the Lakers to shoot for the stars and acquire a first round pick and Dion Waiters. But your job as the GM is to understand the value of your players, set a direction for the team and execute that plan. For as smart as Kupchak is, I don’t think he’s doing his job to his abilities right now.
Plus, I REALLY wanted the Lakers to trade Gasol away for tanking purpose and so that the team would be under the luxury tax at the end of this season. It would have been a fantastic move for all concerned parties (other than Kobe) and would have set the Lakers up to make real moves in the summer of 2014.
Now, once again, the Lakers are in a holding pattern without a true direction. In the NBA, that is the last place you want to be.