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Lakers need big changes — which means trading a big man

May 22, 2012, 11:34 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol walks off the court after a season-ending loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game 5 of the NBA western conference semi-finals in Oklahoma City Reuters

It’s obvious the Lakers need changes. Big changes.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are younger, deeper, more athletic and just flat out better. And they are not going anywhere for a few years. That’s not to mention up-and-coming contenders like the Clippers in the West that are passing where the Lakers seem stuck on the side of the road.

If Kobe Bryant wants to compete with those teams in the next few years and get a sixth ring, the Lakers need to revamp their roster. Which is no simple thing because they are way over the salary cap with $80 million committed for next season (Kobe makes $27 million alone), no draft picks of consequence and no trade assets other teams want.

Well, the Lakers do have some trade assets — Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. The Lakers don’t have a choice — they are going to have to break up their core and trade a big man to rework this roster.

But even that is not simple. For all you Lakers fans out there planning out your Gasol trade, remember this —Bynum’s contract is up after next season and that puts the Lakers in the same spot as the Orlando Magic with Dwight Howard. If Bynum does not commit long term, the Lakers have to consider moving him rather than losing him for nothing.

On top of it all, remember Lakers fans that the new CBA’s punitive tax scale kick in soon so the Lakers need to reduce their payroll.

It’s a mess. You can get younger and cheaper through the draft but the Lakers don’t have draft picks to speak of (the Cavaliers have L.A.’s first-round pick this year). The Lakers are over the luxury tax which means can basically only offer one a mini mid-level exemption worth $3 million and then veteran minimum contracts to bring in new players. Los Angeles can re-sign free agents like Matt Barnes, Jordan Hill and youngsters like Andrew Goudelock and Devin Ebanks, but that’s not changing anything really.

Which means the Lakers are going to shop Gasol this summer — he was the odd man out in Mike Brown’s offense. Literally. Bynum got the low left block and Gasol had to operate from the elbow (or farther out, because the Lakers had no other shooters as threats) and rarely got touches in his comfort zone. Kobe threw him under the bus in the playoffs and their relationship seems strained. At best.

Gasol is set to make $19 million next year and the Lakers could get a couple of pieces back if they shop him around — not players as good as him but maybe fits in the system. They will get depth. What they will not be able to do is replicate the Chris Paul trade and get a superstar (and save money in the process), however.

But if you trade Gasol, do you keep Bynum as the future centerpiece for this season and the five years beyond that? The Lakers will pick up Bynum’s $16.5 million option for next season but has he shown the temperament and maturity to build your franchise around in a post-Kobe era? Do you believe he can stay healthy for multiple years? Is this guy your rock at the heart of the franchise?

Bynum would be an interesting trade piece (the Lakers likely would still move him for Dwight Howard fi they could). If you trade the young All-Star you would likely get a great return, is it better to do that and keep Gasol? (I know some Lakers fans told me on twitter the teams should trade both, those fans are fools, big talented guys don’t grown on trees.)

Personally, I would see what the market offers for both and then make my move.

The Lakers have other offseason questions — do you bring back Ramon Sessions? Is coach Mike Brown really the answer? — but the big man question weighs heaviest. Long-time owner Jerry Buss always believed in making trades earlier rather than later, you can bet son Jim will follow that path. The Lakers will be aggressive.

The question is can he do it with the deftness and skill of his father that has kept the Lakers on top for so long.

He’s in a tough spot. There are no easy answers for the Lakers.

  1. rosesacl - May 22, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    This sucks for gasol, he’s getting bamboozled and it sucks…. the guy is getting phased out too early because he’s european and he won’t fight Mike Brown to keep his rightful place in the shooting priority…. it’s BS.

    • infectorman - May 22, 2012 at 6:09 PM

      You answered your own lament:

      He’s European….all you need to know….Weak!!And needs a G.D. haircut to boot!
      Ugly-ass MFer

      • rosesacl - May 23, 2012 at 6:04 AM

        7 footers are genetic freaks of nature that are born in society rarely, you can’t be picky in that department.

      • rosesacl - May 23, 2012 at 6:18 AM

        and he’s one of the best bigs the lakers ever had…

    • loungefly74 - May 23, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      I love gasol. he is a great player…but if this team is going to re-tool the roster, he makes most sense to move…

  2. pistolpete0903 - May 22, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    The Bynum to Howard trade could definitely happen if the Lakers sweeten the deal.
    Exhibit A: Gasol and Bynum for Howard and Nelson (cash/other players could be thrown in to match the numbers). A great win scenario for Lakers
    Exhibit B: Bynum for Howard, trade Gasol for decent swingman/shooter. If they get Howard, they really don’t need a star PF (Jordan Hill can develop)
    Exhibit C (I really need to lay off my weed!): Bynum and Gasol to Wolves for Love and Williams.
    People doubting Kobe getting along with Howard could be wrong. Kobe has a gaint ego, but he ain’t stupid. He realizes his window of getting the elusive 6th ring is the next couple of years, and he will make it work.

  3. jerdogthompson - May 22, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Fact-neither Howard or dwill will be in a Fakers jersey EVER! I have said it time & time again……Faker fans enjoy your sub-par or if you prefer years if mediocrity that WILL ensue. Let’s see how many of you fair weather fans remain after this storm has passed. I doubt it’s anything close to 50% after two solid years of lottery balls. Mark my words…..

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 25, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      Your rationale being completely the fact that you simply don’t want to see it happen — not based upon the cap, luxury tax, what guys are thinking or anything that actually goes into the process.

      Right.

  4. progress2011 - May 22, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Ohhhhhh….It brings me SO much joy to read all the posts, of Faker nation, Wallowing in Misery, with all the Big Dreams of all the ridiculous scenario’s !

    I have been waiting all season for this precious day ! A day that brings the realization that:

    1.Your team is OVER – RATED !!!
    2. kobe’s game skills are more closely related to Curly Neal ( the legendary Harlem Globetrotter) than the fundamental B-Ball Jordan learned while attending N.C. and exhibited over his career.
    3. Until you move past the rapist, snitch, ball-hawk you will continue to get swept like you did last year by the Mavs and you would have gotten swept this year but the ref’s helped in game 4, with a plethora of bad fouls, that benefited the Fakers.

    I’m just a little miffed too, cause I purchased all this salt at the beginning of the season and now I have to save it for next year.

    But keep posting your pathetic comments, Pretty-Please. They will help hold me over until next year.

    AHAHAHAHahahahah

    • loungefly74 - May 23, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      progress2011…tell your mom i won’t be home till late tonight. good night son.

  5. anhdazman - May 23, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Trade with GS, Biedrins, and 3 draft picks (the last pick of the 1st round and two 2nd round draft picks) for Pau Gasol. There’s some youth for you!

  6. loungefly74 - May 23, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    (If a trade needs to happen) Gasol is the best piece to move. Several teams in the league would gladly trade for the Spaniard. There are a few on here who say Gasol does not have good trade value…i disagree, as mentioned on a TV Sports channel, Gasol would be a great addition to a contending team that needs some little changes to go the next mile. (they mentioned an Iggy for Gasol trade). The Lakers would get an athletic body on the court and philly would get a desperately needed veteren who can score in bunches.

    revamp the bench. if possible, get rid of a few guys, like steve blake. he is too timid.

    you have to keep Bynum…unless its for D. Howard. as Kurt mentioned, big guys in this league are rare. yeah, i roll my eyes when he performs below his game but the truth is, he is a top 3 Center in the league.

    Kobe, the heart n’ soul of this Laker squad will never be traded. any suggestions to trade him are ridiculous. the haters on this site mention certain stats/antics and that they would be better off without him. well…it means little when you consider what he has done in return (7 Finals, 5 Rings)…but haters like to ignore that or say he had nothing to do with that. another reason why haters, with their myopic views, can never be taken seriously…but just be seen as blowhards. Kobe brings in so much $$$ for that organization…you think ownership would deal that?

    some fool on here mentioned the Lakers are overrated…really? how so? what is your definition of being overrated? SMH. that said, the Lakers, as any great organization does, will reload and contend next season..as they usually contend every season.

    I’m proud to be a Laker fan. no other team (maybe the great Spurs) has had much success as us this past decase or so. we know we can’t win it all every year but we do what we can. 7 finals trips in 12 years? yeah, i’ll take that! who else can claim this? no one. for those who think the Lakers will go down in the dumps for a while…really? have you been watching basketball the past 30 years? the Lakers have been the most relevant team during that time…what makes you think them being the “crown piece” of the NBA will stop? it won’t.

    thats my 2 cents for the Lakers right now. I fully trust the brass will make moves to keep us relevant.

    Go Lakers.

  7. jimsjam33 - May 24, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Even Coach Jackson benched Biedrins at the end of the season for his lack of agression . And you want the Lakers to take him for Gasol and draft choices ? After the first 10 picks in the NBA draft it’s usually a crap shoot .
    How’s this Gasol to the Clippers for Caron Butler , Reggie Evans and Eric Bledsole . Bledsole is a highly sought after point guard and butler and Evans earn respect . You get a point guard , a sharpshooter and a rebounder deluxe .

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