With the trade deadline less than three weeks away, many teams are rumored for moves around the league, but none might be more active or alluring a trade partner as the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reeling from numerous injuries to their backcourt, including limping superstars in Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, who have combined for 12 games played this season, the Lakers have found themselves in a rebuilding situation. The Lakers might not be down for long with 12 contracts worth nearly $38 million coming off the books next season, and an attractive free agent class in the summer.
However, the Lakers could move several of their surplus of expiring contracts, and acquire some young talent in addition to their expected plays in free agency this coming summer and next.
Picking up a hustle player with tenacious rebounding and defensive skills at a discount price is at the top of the wish list for any franchise, but the Lakers could probably use an infusion of youth in their frontcourt, which could come in the form of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson.
According to a report from the Chicago Sun Times, the Lakers called Chicago inquiring about Gibson, a now five-year veteran averaging a career-best 12.3 points and 1.5 blocks per game for the Bulls second-ranked defense this season. The 28-year-old also spent his high school and college days in Southern California.
Gibson signed a four-year extension worth $33 million back in 2012, keeping him under contract until 2017 and a very valuable and cheap commodity for any team in the league.
The new report doesn’t indicate whether the Bulls rebuffed L.A.’s overtures or not, but does say that should Chicago send Gibson anywhere, it might be the clearest sign the club plans to clear enough space to sign another superstar to pair with point guard Derrick Rose. Chicago already moved Luol Deng to save cap space, and is expected to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer’s contract as well.
Top players who could be free agents this summer include Miami’s superstar tandem of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, as well as New York Knicks scoring leader Carmelo Anthony, who has been the source of much-publicized speculation that he could leave the club.
Gibson could slide right in alongside Pau Gasol this season, and fit in well in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system as he’s developed a reliable outside shot over the past few seasons.
There’s no clear indication as to who the Lakers would send to Chicago, but Gasol is a possible trade chip considering his offensive skill set and championship experience, not to mention his $19.2 million expiring contract. Gasol could take some pressure off Chicago’s All-Star center Joakim Noah and keep the Bulls competitive in the East.
Gasol has been involved in numerous trade rumors in recent seasons.