With almost 25 percent of the 2012-2013 season complete, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle.
L.A. has started the year at 9-10, and currently sits in third place in the Pacific Division. Even after firing Mike Brown and hiring Mike D’Antoni, the team has continued to struggle.
With the Lakers inability to stay above .500, rumors have been circulating about potential deals that the team might make. Almost all of them involve Pau Gasol.
Gasol in the midst of the worst season of his career, and has been unable to adapt to D’Antoni’s offensive system. The coach has not utilized Gasol in the post like Phil Jackson once did, and his numbers have decreased immensely, as a result. He’s averaging 12.6 points per game, down from his previous career-low of 17.4 points, which he put up last year.
The Lakers are in no rush to move Gasol. Steve Nash has been injured for almost the entire season, and Los Angeles could quickly turn things around when he gets back. However, they will likely entertain offers for Gasol, of which there will be a few, if he can’t improve with Nash on the court.
The most likely landing spot for Gasol seems to be Toronto. According to CBSSports.com, of all the teams that are interested in the big man, the Raptors can offer the most appealing package. Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza have been discussed as pieces in a potential deal.
Los Angeles balked at Toronto’s recent attempt to discuss a potential deal, but they might be interested in revisiting those talks closer to the All-Star break. Bargnani is considered to be a better complement to Dwight Howard than Gasol, with his ability to shoot on the perimeter. The former No.1 draft pick is averaging 16.8 points per game. L.A. would also be intrigued by Calderon to give them some much needed depth in the backcourt.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have also contacted the Lakers about acquiring Gasol. With Kevin Love back from his injury and the impending return of Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves are looking to making a push towards a playoff run. Minnesota would offer a package surrounding Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic.
If the Lakers eventually decide to pull the trigger on a Gasol trade, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne are reporting that Ryan Anderson would be the team’s top target. The New Orleans Hornets forward is having the best season of his career, averaging 18.3 points and eight rebounds per contest. Like Bargnani, Anderson’s ability to stretch the floor would fit well in D’Antoni’s system.
New Orleans, however, might not be willing to part with Anderson. He’s just 24 years old, and sources tell ESPN.com that he is practically untouchable. The power forward, who played with Howard in Orlando, is signed to a four-year contract.
It might be harder for Los Angeles to trade Gasol than they originally thought. He’s sat out the past two games with tendinitis in both knees, and some think that the seven-footer can no longer be the player that helped the Lakers win two championships.
Some teams that once tried to acquire the four-time All-Star are no longer interested. Chris Broussard reports that both the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks are not looking to acquire Gasol anymore. The Rockets agreed to trade for Gasol in last year’s Chris Paul deal that was eventually vetoed by David Stern. A swap between Gasol and Atlanta’s Josh Smith has long been rumored as a potential deal.
The Denver Nuggets have also reportedly lost interest in trading for Gasol. Danilo Gallinari would likely have been the centerpiece of a deal between the two teams. He was dealt for Carmelo Anthony in 2011, after being drafted by D’Antoni and the New York Knicks.
Even if Gasol continues to struggle once he and Nash get healthy, moving him might not sit well with some Lakers players. Kobe Bryant has been very vocal about Los Angeles keeping Gasol, calling him a “brother.” According to Ric Bucher, one of Nash’s conditions when agreeing to join L.A. was that he would get a chance to play with Gasol.
The Lakers still have plenty of time to turn around their season. They’ve played most of the year with Darius Morris and Chris Duhon at point guard, and should be much better when Nash returns. Point guard Steve Blake has also been plagued by injuries.
If things don’t get much better, though, Bryant and Nash might have to warm up to the idea of Gasol playing for another team.