Los Angeles Lakers News: Pau Gasol to Raptors in Trade for Jose Calderon and Draft Pick?

Pau Gasol walks off the court after the Thunder eliminate the Lakers from the playoffs
Pau Gasol walks off the court after the Thunder eliminate the Lakers from the playoffs Reuters

It looks like Pau Gasol's time in Los Angeles may be coming to an end.

According to Chad Ford and Marc Stein of ESPN, the Lakers are looking to trade Gasol for a top-10 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, as well as an established player in the league.

L.A. is looking to move Gasol after a disappointing 2011-2012 campaign. He averaged a career-low 17.4 points per game, and scored even less in the playoffs. Gasol averaged just 12.5 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the field in the playoffs, and was one of the reasons why the Lakers were knocked out of the second round.

Since the Lakers will only move Gasol in a deal that includes a top-10 pick, the number of teams that they can trade with is limited. Of all the possible trading partners, the Raptors might be the team that makes the most sense.

Toronto can offer a compelling package to the Lakers, while also not giving up too much. The Raptors can send the number eight pick and Jose Calderon to Los Angeles for Gasol.

The move would help the Lakers get younger, while providing them with the competent point guard they've desperately been searching for. Calderon has been a consistent performer since entering the league, averaging over eight assists per game in four of the last five seasons. He's averaging 9.9 points, 7.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds per contest for his career.

The Raptors haven't had much success of late, going 23-43 last season, but a trade for Gasol could greatly improve their standing in the East. A frontline of Andre Bargnani and Gasol would be one of the best in the conference.

The trade could also help Toronto lure in a free agent. Steve Nash is reportedly interested in returning to his native Canada to finish out his career. The ability to join forces with Gasol might be the deciding factor in where Nash decides to sign.

The Lakers could insist that the Raptors include another player, but Calderon and the pick would probably be enough to get the job done. The deal works under the current salary cap rules because of the trade exception L.A. received from trading Lamar Odom in December.

Los Angeles hasn't left the draft with any impact players in quite some time. They usually don't have a high selection because of their regular season success. Devin Ebanks in 2010 and Jordan Farmer in 2006 are probably the last two picks to have any kind of production for the team.

At number eight, the Lakers have a few options. They could look to replace the size they lost with Gasol. Either Tyler Zeller or John Henson from North Carolina would probably be available here.

There's also a chance L.A. could draft a shooting guard with a high ceiling. Dion Waiters from Syracuse and Austin Rivers out of Duke would be dark horse candidates to go eighth overall.

The NBA Draft is set to get underway on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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