To use a sports cliche, the Lakers ended up with Pau Gasol because they wanted it more than did the Chicago Bulls. From Sam Smith’s column in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune:
Grizzlies owner Mike Heisley told the Memphis Commercial Appeal the Bulls refused to go into the luxury tax for Pau Gasol, while the Lakers would. So Heisley traded him to Los Angeles.
“We had conversations with Chicago which were non-satisfactory,” Heisley said. “They didn’t want to take on the luxury-tax situation, and Los Angeles would. In this league, if you’re in a big-market area you can afford to do those things.
“We negotiated as hard as we could for quality players, and [the Bulls] refused to give up anybody in their core group. What they offered us were guys who play on the second and third team, so we turned them down.”
I guess this would be a little harder for Bulls fans to swallow if their team was any good this year. After all, Chicago’s been the rumored spot for Pau for what, two years now?
But still, it’s pretty tough to justify to your paying fan base that you let a player of Gasol’s caliber slip through your fingers because you simply wouldn’t pay up and/or be willing to let go of a good player(s) in return. The Lakers didn’t exactly surrender Kareem and MJ in the package they exchanged for Pau. If Chicago blows this team up before the trade deadline or over the summer, unless they’re sure they can get better than Gasol, what’s the point?
On the other hand, if you’re a Lakers fan, you have to tip your hat to Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the organization for the willingness to go into the luxury tax for the chance to win now without giving up your core and setting the stage to still potentially make another monster deal (sending Lamar Odom somewhere) if you think you’re still a piece or two away.
Blog-A-Bull breaks it down even further and poses this:
So right now we have a team that’s supposedly gunning for the playoffs, yet can’t get an upgrade.
And sure, tough to rag on Pax for a non-move, as we don’t know the information. But we do know this team he has sucks, and has had 2 coaches now say they’ve quit. So as much as staying the course may be the best move, it’s also tough seeing what he’s so committed to.
Check out the full post HERE.