Sunday, January 5, 2014

Report: The Lakers Are Close to Trading Pau Gasol

I know how the vast majority of Lakers fans will feel about this one. The Lakers have been in some pretty serious trade talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers about former Lakers center Andrew Bynum and not for the reasons you would want to hear; this is about Bynum's contract being non-guaranteed and not for "basketball reasons". Rest assured, this is a trade with the Lakers' future in mind and, if you don't mind having a terrible team for this season, it's a good one. The Lakers are very unlikely to get an equal or better player for Gasol without giving up draft picks, something the Lakers are not willing to trade because of how few of them the team has left, so why not go after financial security for the future?

To clarify, if the Lakers manage to get the trade done by today (it's a 48 hour wait period for the trade to go through), they can waive Bynum by Tuesday's deadline and save 6.3 million of Bynum's 12.3 million for this season. This is a good thing because it will ensure the Lakers get below the luxury tax and reset their "repeater tax clock", so they wouldn't get penalized under the new CBA and would have more money to spend in the upcoming free agency periods.

There's a few reasons this trade hasn't gone down yet, for one, the two teams haven't discussed other players at the moment, but a straight up Gasol-for-Bynum swap is not possible because the salaries do not match up. The Lakers want to get another asset as well, be it a first round draft pick or 20 year old, Russian small forward Sergey Karasev, who was the 19th pick of the 2013 draft. As it is, the Cavaliers have not been willing to include either in earlier trade talks and have reportedly offered the Lakers a 2nd round pick, but that isn't enough for the Lakers. In an ideal world, the Lakers can somehow pry Dion Waiters out of this trade, who the Cavs have reportedly put on the trading block, but the chance that happens is close to 0.

There's no surprise that the Lakers had been shopping Gasol, however I think most of us would have preferred Gasol going for something more than financial flexibility. It's not all bad; if the Lakers can get a first round pick out of this, then it's definitely a good trade. If not, then we better hope Mitch makes some good signings in the upcoming Free Agent class. Either way, it appears Pau's time with the Lakers is indeed over. At the very least, it will help the Lakers' draft position for the 2014 NBA Draft.