With the NBA Draft fast approaching, new trade rumors are emerging within the Lakers organization about possible deals for Spanish big man Pau Gasol.
While any trade for the player whose arrival in Los Angeles brought three trips to the NBA Finals and two consecutive championships is very unlikely, there's one deal that might go down.
The Lakers would send Gasol to Minnesota for Kevin Love and the second overall pick in the draft along with salary fillers. It's possible that Minnesota point guard Jonny Flynn would be included in the deal, but expect Wolves general manager David Kahn to avoid adding Flynn in the deal if he can.
Though Love has proven to be a quality starter, he is more known for being the best player on a very bad Timberwolves team. Love is a very good rebounder, a good shooter, and an excellent passer, but it will be hard for Love to be as effective as he was in Minnesota as he would be in Los Angeles. The upside still remains for the young Love, who made his mark in Los Angeles with the UCLA Bruins.
Gasol leaving Los Angeles would still seem a bit far-fetched. If the Lakers were to trade their All-Star power forward they would certainly prefer to bring in a superstar, like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, which has been a rumor this offseason.
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However, there are some elements to this potential trade that might make this deal go through.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has shown interest in trading into the first round, and the second overall pick will likely be used on Arizona forward Derrick Williams, a Southern California native, who has a great deal of potential.
This is certainly a trade that Minnesota wants. Much of the speculation surrounding the trade enters on the Timberwolves expecting young point guard Ricky Rubio to officially announce on Friday that he is joining the team next year. Rubio and Gasol played together for the Spanish national team, so Gasol's presence would help ease Rubio's transition into the NBA.
Rubio is used to a European style of play in which big men can post up less and shoot more. Gasol is a very talented in the post but can also step out and shoot jumpers, so Rubio would be in a situation where he's running an offense more like the one he's used to in Spain.
While the Lakers concede a big-time scorer and low-post threat, they get in return the best rebounder in the league last season. Love is also a very good three-point shooter for a power forward, so he may actually be a better fit alongside Andrew Bynum than Gasol.
In the postseason, Gasol struggled to play at the level that Lakers fans expect. Though this is a first for Gasol, the Lakers may be in a transition period, and the long-term future of the organization doesn't hinge on Gasol, or ever Kobe Bryant, but rather Bynum. Appeasing their star big man might be the top priority for Jim Buss, the son of owner Jerry Buss, who is making his presence felt since the departure of Phil Jackson.
It's possible that a Love-Bynum frontcourt would be more successful than a Gasol-Bynum one. Both Love and Bynum rebound effectively and Love's shooting ability would allow Bynum to be the primary post scorer, which is a role he would relish.
The Lakers could have a variety of options with the second pick. They could pick the most talented player in the draft by selecting Williams, or they can fill their point-guard needs as Derek Fishers approaches retirement, by trading the pick.
Williams's upside is very high. He can play both forward positions, is strong on both ends of the court, and could become a future scorer to supplant Bryant.
New head coach Mike Brown and Bryant could mold Williams into a legitimate NBA scorer. Perhaps most importantly, selecting Williams get the Lakers younger, and strengthens the bench.
There is yet another trade scenario involving Los Angeles. The Lakers can trade down with Cleveland, since the Cavs want Williams, and are willing to add their fourth pick and another player to get him.
The Lakers would be able to add a player like Ramon Sessions -- a good veteran point guard who could score and run the Lakers' offense very effectively.
Of course, this is all speculation. When Celtics GM Danny Ainge tried to go young by trading Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green, he was shredded apart.
The same could be said for Kupchak if the Lakers deal Gasol.