In the wake of Andrew Bynum‘s indefinite suspension, ESPN reports the Cavs are mulling a deal with the Lakers that would involve sending Pau Gasol to Cleveland in exchange for Bynum and assets. The deal would most likely come before the January 7 deadline when an additional $6 million becomes guaranteed in Bynum’s Cleveland contract.
ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne report:
The Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers have had discussions about a trade that would involve Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, league sources told ESPN.com.
No deal is believed to be imminent, but both sides are mulling it ahead of a Jan. 7 deadline when the second half of Bynum’s $12.25 million salary would be guaranteed. The Cavs suspended Bynum for one game this weekend for conduct detrimental to the team and have excused him indefinitely from all activities, including games.
However, there are some within the Lakers organization not ready to throw in the towel on the Lakers even after their 13-18 start (No. 13 in the West) and Kobe Bryant’s fractured knee keeping him out until after the All-Star break.
“There remains a strong organizational sentiment to continue to give the team time to get healthy and resurrect its season before making any major moves,” sources told ESPN.
The report goes on to mention the Cavs and Lakers initiated preliminary talks about bringing Gasol to Cleveland this past summer, but those negotiations fell apart with the announcement Dwight Howard had signed with Houston as a free agent.
The deal for Los Angeles would get them out of luxury tax territory this season, thereby removing the dreaded repeater tax next year. The extra money in their coffers would allow LA more variability in what’s shaping up to be a crazy free agency period this summer.
For Cleveland, Gasol would help them in their drive for a playoff berth, which would be their first in the post-LeBron era, and which they haven’t been shy about sharing with the world after winning the Draft Lottery last summer. Also, it perhaps goes without mentioning, but making the playoffs for Dan Gilbert and Co. would also act as a shiny lure for LeBron James this summer, should he opt out of his Miami deal.
Cleveland also has a separate deal to unload Bynum involving the Bulls and soon-to-be free agent Luol Deng. The Bulls have notoriously balked at the prospect of over-extending themselves and they’re already $8 million into the luxury tax with an injured superstar; Deng’s market value this summer would also probably keep Chicago over the tax threshold and they’re going to have to sign Jimmy Butler to a new deal soon, too.
So far this season, Pau Gasol is averaging 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30 minutes a night. But he’s also shooting a career-low 44.6 percent from the field. Bynum is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20 minutes a night in Cleveland and shooting 41.9 percent from the field — his lowest since his rookie season.
Which team does the Gasol-Bynum swap help the most?
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