Much to the chagrin of Lakers fans who pleaded for the front office to only “tweak” the roster, Mitch Kupchak has officially pulled off a blockbuster in mid-season.
Effectively, this trade means that management is striving to “win now.”
In dissecting this trade, it’s plainly obvious that the front office feels they can win an NBA title this year.
We’ve seen Javaris Crittenton in action. He has so much talent that we’ve nicknamed him “Hollywood”. His athletic prowess and, more importantly, his determination made him an optimistic jewel in the eyes of the Lakers Nation. We were all looking forward to his second and subsequent years. He’s extremely versatile and most of us felt he would become an All-Star in the NBA. He was certainly a good player to have around as Kobe enters his 30s.
Therefore, it’s highly likely that Memphis felt Javaris Crittenton was the nugget that made this trade possible. The other likelihood was that they realized they would not be able to keep Pau Gasol on their team for much longer. They hoped Rudy Gay would not only bring more wins, but placate their disappointed star. Just as the Lakers Nation felt that sick feeling in the pit of their stomachs when Kobe Bryant asked to be traded, the Memphis front office has been dealing with the exact same issue, and it obviously had not gone away despite their efforts.
In other words, Memphis had to do something.
Instead of losing Gasol altogether, they are getting a player in Crittenton with huge upside. The interesting person in the trade is Pau’s brother Marc. While Pau is certainly a proven player, does Memphis think Marc will turn out to be the next Gasol success story? Perhaps, but he also may never dawn the NBA jersey that caused his brother so much disdain.
After looking at this trade from the Memphis perspective, how does this trade line up for the Lakers?
First, let’s be honest with ourselves. The last trade of this magnitude that we made, we were horribly ripped off. Can you imagine our team with Caron Butler on it? While Javaris may turn out to be a Caron Butler type, there’s no doubt that the Lakers’ roster has been upgraded for the time being. There’s no soft way to say it: Kwame Brown was a disaster. Not only was the trade the equivalent of a fifth grade bully stealing all your lunch money, but Kwame himself just did not have the level of work ethic or desire to win that befits an NBA champion team.
Meanwhile, the Lakers had essentially turned into a lottery team without any serious inside presence. Pau Gasol immediately provides the triangle offense with some inside firepower in Bynum’s absence, even as it replaces a person who had little desire to win with a person who has a vehement desire to win.
At the end of last season I wrote a letter to Dr. Jerry Buss. It was the first time I had ever done such a thing. The gist of the letter was that we had too many players on our team that did not care and would never work to improve their games. I named specific players who I felt fit that mold.
The three players I mentioned in that letter to Dr. Buss have all been removed as of today.
Of course I’m not taking credit, but rather I’m making a point. Management knows what’s up, and they have shown that even beyond skill, they want winning personalities on the team.
We sacrificed one winning personality in Crittenton to get rid of the worst personality we had.
Not only do we have an upgrade in skill, but we also have a huge upgrade in attitude by what was dubbed on this website as “smushtraction”.
We all know where our weak links were and are. We have the best shooting guard in the league. We have very good production out of our point guards. We have Andrew Bynum at Center. We have Lamar to play either the three or the four (and he apparently does better at the four). No matter how we could tweak our roster, our weak link was the power forward position.
Obtaining Pau Gasol today effectively wipes out our weak link.
Now when we’re healthy, we will have three All-Star players (Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum) along with two solid role players (Odom and Fisher), and we will continue to have solid bench production with players like Farmar and Ariza.
All in all, we have to say that we got the better of the deal. Gasol is a proven player who is still young and who has shown to have a deep desire to win. Him and Kobe are friends (Kobe met with Gasol right before that infamous meeting with Buss in Spain) and it’s a reasonable conclusion that Gasol will do whatever it takes to win with a renewed vigor and championship aspirations.
Giving up Kwame Brown, two draft picks, and Aaron Mckie’s money to match salaries was a no brainer.
The fact that they gave up a big guard with a huge upside, and one that we can reasonably expect to be an All-Star very soon just shows what management is thinking:
Our Time is Now!