Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What do you do with Pau Gasol? If no trade … what do you do with Pau?
Steve Aschburner: Nope, not gonna do it. Not going to crowd onto the Kick Pau Here bandwagon. This is a Lakers’ problem, not just his. Dwight Howard sure is getting a pass for his free throws and some sub-par games overall. Steve Nash isn’t playing at all. Kobe is at his drama-queen finest, with all that lying atop piles of towels Tuesday night. Some basketball issues take longer than others, and I’m going to take Mike D’Antoni at his word from the Gasol-fourth-quarter-benching game in Memphis. “Pau is a great player and will always be a great player,” the Lakers coach said. “We’ll keep tinkering and working. A lot of this stuff will [change] too when the Steves [Nash and Blake] come back.” The Lakers’ brass chose D’Antoni over the great Phil Jackson – they must have a high regard for his ability to fix problems. So fix this.
Fran Blinebury: He’s been an All-Star in the past. He’s still got All-Star level talent. After everybody is finished using him as their punching bag again, I’m telling my new head coach to make him a part of the offense. Or wait for assistant head coach Steve Nash to return and let him do it.
Jeff Caplan: Trade him? You nuts? Pau isn’t going anywhere because the Lakers will never get anyone in return who can come close to matching his size and skill. Give this time. He’s working through knee tendinitis and a third coach this season and a new offense. Let Steve Nash come back to orchestrate things and Pau will be getting more of those post opportunities he’s craving. Now stop it with this silly trade talk.
Scott Howard-Cooper: What’s the offer? If it’s for an upgrade at power forward or small forward, sure, but chances are slim that player is available with the necessary contract. I don’t trade Pau Gasol just to dump and run. More importantly, neither do the Lakers. Gasol can pass and shoot and rebound and is ego-less in his willingness to take a deferential role. This adjustment period is no worse a spot than he has been in before. Bring me a good offer, then we’ll talk.
John Schuhmann: Trade him. I think the Lakers, if they were to stand pat, would certainly get better as the season goes on, especially if Steve Nash comes back healthy before the new year. But this team’s biggest asset has always been their size up front, and Mike D’Antoni’s offense doesn’t take advantage of that. Since he took over as coach, 53 percent of Gasol’s shots have come from outside the paint. Under all other Lakers coaches (Jackson, Brown, Bickerstaff), only 30 percent of Gasol’s shots came from outside the paint. Gasol’s a great player, but he’s just not a good fit under this coach. The offense would be much more potent (and the bench would also be stronger) if they could exchange Gasol for a couple of forwards who can shoot threes. I don’t know exactly where that kind of trade could come from, considering his $19 million salary this season and next, but I imagine it will come eventually. How about a D’Antoni reunion with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler?
Sekou Smith: It sounds good in theory, using Pau Gasol as a trade chip and getting assets that fit Mike D’Antoni‘s system better than say, one of the most skilled big men in the world? Gasol isn’t the problem here. Any system that can’t figure out what to do with him seems like a much bigger problem to me. The Lakers won back-to-back titles playing a style that accentuated the things Gasol does better than most. But since then he has become the Lakers’ pinata, courtesy of two humbling playoff efforts. The fact is, Gasol is 32 and has maybe lost a half step, but he’s still capable of playing an integral role on a championship contender. He’s struggling to score this season in the way he and we all are used to seeing him score, but he’s rebounding and blocking shots at his regular clip. If the Lakers move him, it’ll strictly be for scapegoating purposes.