Dec 18, 2013, 8:01 PM EDT
Pau Gasol was off to a slow start this season, and after he and coach Mike D’Antoni traded jabs through the media about both his role and his performance, the Lakers had reportedly started to weigh their options by making Gasol available in trade long before the Feb. 20 deadline had begun to approach.
Even before Gasol’s comments and lackluster play to this point in the season, logic dictated that L.A. would consider dealing him at some point if the right offer was in place. Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if it’s evident that he isn’t a fit in D’Antoni’s system, it makes sense to try to get some assets in return for a player who will almost assuredly return to All-Star form at his next destination.
At the moment, however, Gasol is safe in Los Angeles. After strong play over his last couple of games, along with some comments that no doubt were intended to make amends, the team has backed off of exploratory trade talks involving Gasol for now.
The Los Angeles Lakers have decided — at least for now – that they’re better off keeping four-time All-Star center Pau Gasol, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers, after weighing the idea of making Gasol available before the NBA’s annual trade deadline in February, are encouraged by the way Gasol has played over the last three games as well as his efforts to make amends for his recent public spat with coach Mike D’Antoni. …
Sources maintain that the Lakers would be reluctant to surrender any of that hard-fought flexibility in a potential deal for Gasol or any other player. Yet it’s believed that the Lakers would consider taking back some salary that bleeds into the 2014-15 season — but not beyond — if they could acquire a player who could significantly help them in the short term or other trade assets to help them reload around Bryant.
That’s one of the things that gets tricky when thinking about dealing Gasol. The Lakers would likely have to take back a significant amount of salary in any deal that sent him out of town, and that would cut into the team’s ability to be a true player in free agency this coming summer.
In order to deal Gasol, the Lakers would need to get players back who could increase their chances of winning now — not a championship, necessarily, but enough to do some damage in the playoffs in a very deep Western Conference.
There aren’t any deals out there to be had that would improve L.A. in this way, and with Gasol playing better and toning down the inflammatory public comments, the team will be content to stand pat for now, while likely revisiting their options as the trade deadline moves closer over the next couple of months.