The Black Swamba is finished. One way or another, it’s been pretty obvious the Black Mamba has run out of patience for his Black Swan, and the partnership that produced three consecutive Finals trips, two championships and five straight runs to the Western Conference Semifinals will probably end this summer. The Lakers flirted with a roster without Pau Gasol last offseason, and would’ve gone through with it had it not been for David Stern‘s dictatorial power. Now after another disappointing season, all signs point to one of the most skilled big man in the league ending up someplace, anyplace, outside of Hollywood.
Gasol averaged a career-low 17.4 points a game this year, mostly because Andrew Bynum ate up his touches. The Spaniard still snatched 10.4 boards a night, and was still one of the most effective players in the league in the post. He also averaged the most assists he ever has as a Laker. But he’ll be 32 this summer, and as long as he stays in Los Angeles, he’ll be the third mouth on the pecking order, never a good thing for someone so submissive in the first place.
Sam Smith, a longtime beat writer of Chicago and Bulls.com, writes that he believes Chicago should add Gasol this summer. Why? Well for starters, he reports Gasol actually wants to go there, citing inside source from the Lakers. It would be a match made in heaven for the big man. Chicago is a big, mainstream city with a team that could desperately use his offensive skills in the post, and could cover up any deficiencies on defense. Plus, Kobe grew tired of Gasol’s timid demeanor long ago. With the Bulls, that wouldn’t matter. They’d have enough around him to shadow it.
Could a deal revolving around Luol Deng coming back in exchange be enough to entice the Lakers? Bryant always loved the 6-9 forward’s game. But Deng has made the All-Star Game just once – this year, and he probably didn’t deserve it. Plus, he’s not a seven footer, can’t command a double-team and perhaps most importantly in the context of a trade, he makes just $13.4 million next year. For the next two seasons, Gasol is on the books for over $38 million. No one wants Carlos Boozer. Omer Asik is set to become a restricted free agent. Smith threw out the name Rip Hamilton, someone who makes $5 million and goes back with Bryant all the way to their days in Pennsylvania schoolyards. But who wants a 34-year-old at the same position as Kobe, who played only 28 games this year?
Any Gasol-to-Chicago deal will likely need a third team. L.A. may not find a way to make that happen, but I’d say they’ll find a way to make something happen this offseason.
Should the Lakers trade Gasol this summer?
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