You might have a Super Bowl hangover, but if you’re a Suns fan, we might have your cure. Sources are telling ESPN the Suns have explored trade options for Pau Gasol, who is in the last of a deal that pays him $19.286 million. The Suns have surprised everyone with their hot first half to the NBA season, where they’ve got the No. 6 record in the tough Western Conference. Now they’re looking to add firepower as they push for a playoff spot.
Per Marc Stein at ESPN:
The Phoenix Suns have emerged as a potential trade suitor for Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Suns, among the options being weighed as part of their well-chronicled desire to acquire an established player as they make an unexpected playoff push this season, have been exploring the feasibility of trading for the Lakers’ four-time All-Star.
One option for the Suns, by virtue of their $5.6 million in available salary-cap space, is swapping the expiring contract of injured big man Emeka Okafor for Gasol, even though Okafor’s $14.5 million salary this season falls well shy of Gasol’s $19.3 million
The Lakers debated a similar deal to cut costs with Andrew Bynum earlier this year before the Cavs ultimately made the trade for Luol Deng. The Okafor deal wouldn’t be as beneficial for the Lakers, but it would help.
The Suns could take on Pau’s contract with their $5.6 million cap space, but the Lakers would still be in luxury tax territory, though it would be less than $3 million from the luxury tax line, which means they’d likely only need to do a smaller deal before the February 20 trade deadline to scooch under the tax line.
Okafor’s deal has already started be covered by insurance since he’s been unable to play due to a severe nick injury this season. Once Phoenix passed the midpoint of the season, insurance began picking up 80 percent of what remains on a deal that will pay Okafor $14.48 million he is owed this year.
Gasol averaged 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in January â€” his best numbers of the season, by far â€” while shooting 51 percent. But he’ll be out with a strained groin over the next week.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough told NBA.com, by way of ESPN, that the Suns are looking to add to their roster this season, and they’re willing to part with one or more of their possible four first-round picks in this upcoming 2014 NBA draft.
“We’re obviously all looking for stars,” McDonough said, “and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available.”
The appeal for the Suns is one of flexibility. Because Gasol’s in the last year of his contract, the Suns wouldn’t be tied to him long-term if they wanted to go another way after the year was up. With Eric Bledsoe‘s injury, and his own upcoming free agency since the Suns weren’t able to lock him down to an extension before the fall deadline, it leaves a lot of question marks for a team that’s loaded with young players, cap room and a number of upcoming draft picks.
It’s a good time to be a Suns fan.
What do you think?
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