Last week we told you that the Minnesota Timberwolves were were interested in trading for Lakers F Pau Gasol. That report set off a ground-swell of speculation that the Lakers are entertaining offers for the former all-star.
That speculation has not sat well with Kobe Bryant, who feels that Gasol is still a key component to the Lakers championship aspirations. Kobe voiced his displeasure with a group of reporters after the Lakers loss in Phoenix last night:
I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him. It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I’d rather them not trade him at all. If they’re going to do something, I wish they would just (expletive) do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out, he can play and he can invest all of himself into the game.”
As much as fans and pundits say that the NBA is a business, it is more than understandable how constant trade speculation can weigh on the mind of a player. Pau’s field goal percentage has taken a bit of a dip over the last few games, but his overall production has been consistent throughout. Despite his age and adjusting to playing more outside of the paint, Gasol has scored at least 15 points 19 times and has grabbed at least 10 rebounds 21 times in 31 games, which is still better than most at his position. Bryant, as many should expect, is thinking from a players perspective. If a move is going to be made, then make it as quickly as possible so that the team can move forward and not have to deal with the constant rumors on a day to day basis.
The problem with that notion is that the trade deadline is just barely under a month away. Mitch Kupchak (or more likely, Jim Buss), isn’t going to the pull the trigger on a trade just for the sake of doing it. For every name that we hear linked to potential trades around the NBA, there are dozens of names that we would never imagine being discussed (see the trade that brought Pau to Los Angeles from Memphis). The closer we get to the deadline, the more and more potential names that will come available.
Bryant has been in the NBA long enough to know that trade speculation comes with the territory of being an NBA player, and he is playing the good soldier by vouching for his teammate. But the fact of the matter is that in a perfect world the Lakers wouldn’t want to move Pau Gasol. He’s a double double machine who has helped them win two championships. The problem is that he is the only tradeable asset that other teams would covet (sans Andrew Bynum, but we all know there’s only one place they would trade him to). Bryant needs to understand that any move that the organization would make would be done with the intent to improve his chances of winning a 6th championship this season and if that means taking their time to make a move to place the team in the title hunt, then so be it. Of course, that theory is out of the window should the Lakers consummate a deal like the T-Wolves trade, at which point they’ll be dealing with an even angrier Kobe Bryant who just might ask to be sent to pluto again.
On a side note: I spoke with co-host of the Petros and Money Show on Fox Sports Radio, as well as columnist for foxsportswest.com, Matt “Money” Smith, this past weekend and he laid out multiple trade scenarios for the Purple and Gold. You can hear that interview here