I’m still in shock.
Pau Gasol’s a Laker?
Am still having a hard time getting my head around it.
When I first read it, I was worried about who LA gave up to get him… then read the trade. And again. Surely I missed a name – only Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, the not-playing Aaron McKie (who, by-the-way, actually works as an unpaid assistant for the 76ers), and the Lakers top draft picks in 08/10???
Hats off to Mitch Kupchak. Whilst I’ve been a long-time critic of his, it would seem that yet again, I have to eat my words (with regards to his performance). A masterstroke that puts him in contention for GM of the year. And unlike Danny Ainge, he didn’t have to hostage the franchise’s future to do it.
For quite a while now, given the way this team has been playing, I’ve stated that what the Lakers need is a power forward who opens up other options. Lamar’s good, but he clearly prefers the small forward slot, despite his length. But I never dreamed they’d obtain Pau Gasol. Hell… I would’ve been happy with Jermaine O’Neal, and now – no offense on the oft-injured Jermaine – he’s no where near the player Gasol is.
There are quite a few critics of this move on the internet at the moment: claiming that it’s no big deal… Gasol’s soft. And that he won’t fit in with the Lakers offense…
Ummm… consider the following:
– within the Lakers unit, Gasol will not have to carry a team. He doesn’t have to lead.
– neither will he have to guard the ‘big bangers’ once Bynum gets back. Not his role.
– he certainly was fine guiding the Spanish national team to the FIBA World Championship title…
Bynum is a back-in center. He prefers the power game under the hoop… admittedly it’s a role he’s growing into, but if this season has been any indication… things look good there.
Gasol is finesse. He prefers to face up. And this is something he can do in LA. As Kurt Rambis pointed out, within the triangle offense, you need guys who can pass, and guys who can shoot. Seems basic, but Pau Gasol fits both of those admirably.
And he should be fine with Kobe… Kobe’s been far less selfish this year, and wants to win. Gasol helps push the Lakers to the brink of not only being a championship contender, but perhaps even multiple ones.
Truth be told, there’s still a long way to go yet before even considering a title, but Bryant’s sounds happy.
There’s no way on god’s green earth another team can assemble a team like that around Bryant. Any talent would surely be shipped out in the trade to get Kobe in the first place. Nor is he likely to find many teams willing to hit the luxury tax. Well… maybe New York… but then the ‘talent’ becomes a non-issue, a veritable laugher.
So, eventually the LA Lakers will field a team of:
PG – Fisher
SG – Bryant
SF – Odom
PF – Gasol
C – Bynum
Bench – Ariza, Turiaf, Farmar, Walton, Radmanovic, Vujacic, Mihm. And, of course, Phil Jackson. Gasol strikes many as the type of player who will benefit greatly from the Zen Master’s tutelage.
Many fans are now clamoring for the Lakers to now enter the bidding war that will ensue for Jason Kidd. Not so fast… To get J-Kidd, you’d have to give up a helluva lot of the pieces that place LA where it is now, and take on yet another mega-contract. The triangle’s never needed a pure point man… and I think they ought to give Lamar Odom a chance at small forward. Odom at small forward… that is going to be a match-up hell for teams. Well… realistically, when Bynum gets back, the entire roster is going to be a match-up hell for teams.
As it stands, the Lakers starting rotation has 3 guys 6’10″+, two of whom are fast, two of whom are 7 footers. Defensively, having Bynum/Odom/Kobe covers for Gasol’s defensive short-comings… tho’ given he won’t have to guard the opposition’s big bangers any more, not sure that he’ll be so challenged.
There’s no need to go seeking a trade for Odom. He could be the small forward the Lakers need…
Maybe the Lakers do trade Odom, but I don’t believe it’ll be for Kidd. Within the triangle, Fisher & Farmar have been performing fantastically thus far. If they trade Odom, it will be for someone who fits the rotation better at SF… and I’m not 100% sure anyone does.
Or… maybe the Lakers already have him: Trevor Ariza.
It certainly shakes up the West. Dallas almost certainly have to pursue Kidd even harder, and there really isn’t a lot that either San Antonio or Phoenix can do.
Still, perhaps the team that’s most shaken by this is Chicago, who has long held that Gasol would perhaps be a part of their future. Bulls fans are livid, Lakers fans ecstatic. And then some.
All pipe dreams until Bynum gets back, and maybe not even a realistic contender until next season… but interesting times ahead.