By now we’ve all heard the rumored swap, the subsequent denials by both front offices, and the hopeful voices of many a Lakers fan begging Mitch to “Do it!”.
I’m here to tell you why it would be a nice idea in theory, but more importantly – I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t make sense – without even touching the financial aspects of the trade.
Let’s start off with the reasons for the trade shall we?
1. Bosh is a superior player to Bynum – I know most Lakers fans, me included, see Bynum as a potential 28 & 12 guy that has showed flashes of being over the last two years before the consecutive knee injuries, but as of now he just simply is not that player… yet.
Bosh is 24 & 11 right now, has offensive range that makes Gasol look like Bynum, and is an athletic mobile defender who anchored an Olympic Gold Medal winning defense. I hate to say it, but Bosh is clearly the better player right now.
2. Bosh’s skill set meshes really well with Gasol – Gasol has more of a back to the basket game, Bosh can drive to the basket better and has more range, plus it’s safe to say that Bosh is more athletic than Gasol. This tandem works better for the Lakers than the current pairing, because right now, Gasol has to use his secondary skill set (face up game) more than his primary skill set (post up game).
This pairing allows Gasol to be naturally more effective than the current one.
3. Bosh’s skill set fits really well in the triangle – The Triangle was designed to get shooters open shots with proper spacing and intelligent off the ball movement, right? Bosh provides better spacing on offense because his man has to guard him from all areas on the court, as he is a threat to shoot or drive from just about anywhere. Couple that with his passing ability and his strengths as a shooter, and it is no wonder that Phil Jackson was interested in him as early as December of 2005.
Those are all compelling reasons to bite the bullet and make the trade straight away — except that there are 3 equally valid reasons to keep things the way they are…
1. Lakers give up size in this trade – I’m not saying that Gasol can’t play center for the Lakers. If nothing else, Gasol has shown over the last two years that he can play consistently well in the middle – so much so that he has shed the “soft” label that he carried for years. What I am saying, however, is that I’m not confident about Bosh playing center.
As it is right now, Odom is the starting power forward replacement, and Gasol is the starting center replacement. Taking Bynum out of the equation means we’re heavily relying on Gasol to not get injured, because Bosh would become the center replacement in this scenario. I have the same misgivings about Bosh as a center as I do about Odom being a center.
Sure it would work in a pinch, but that’s not an ideal lineup for any stretch of time.
2. Acquiring Bosh screws up the big man rotation – This is how it works right now.
Bynum and Gasol start off for the Lakers. Phil brings in Odom for the first big in foul trouble or if one of them is playing particularly poorly, and then tries to keep at least two of the three players on the court the whole game. In any given game, Bynum is just as likely to share the floor with Odom as he is with Gasol.
This won’t work, especially against the top teams like Cleveland, Boston and Orlando, if Odom and Bosh are on the floor at the same time, because neither one of them is a preferred option at center. The obvious solution for this is to play Bosh and Gasol together as much as possible so that their time on the floor coincides with each other. This would work just fine for most teams, except the Lakers would then be almost completely wasting the talents of Odom, who would only get 10-15 minutes a game in this scenario.
Things would be different if Odom could play at small forward, but Bynum is more likely to fulfill his potential dominance than Odom is to develop a consistent jump shot at this stage in their careers.
3. Bosh would have to sign off on being Option 3, 2A at best – Bosh is only averaging 16 shots a game as a first option, but that’s still 5 more shots than Bynum currently takes. Shots don’t grow on trees, there’s only so many of them available per game, and if other players don’t adjust their games to let him have his 16 shots a game, you’re looking at an 18 & 9 guy instead of a 24 & 11 guy.*
Let’s be honest, Kobe is the biggest obstacle to Bosh getting his shots. Bosh is almost 26. Does anything about Kobe’s recent play suggest that he’ll start declining, and therefore start taking less shots, before Bosh is 28-30? That’s an awful lot of years for Bosh to wait before becoming the number 1 option for the Lakers.
Bynum, on the other hand, just turned 22 – he’ll likely be 24-26 when Kobe is finally ready to cede his top dog status – or about the same age that Bosh is now. If he’s patient, he’s guaranteed his time as the number 1 option on the Lakers.
Bosh? Not as much.
Basically it goes like this. A Bosh-Gasol front court would be phenomenal, and you don’t really lose in that scenario if you’re just looking at just the on-court stuff (the only real possible detriment would be to Odom’s game, more on that below).
However, the reason the Lakers don’t do this trade, is because of the potential of Bynum, loyalty to Odom, and a host of financial issues that I didn’t even have time to cover.
Those may not seem like good enough reasons to you, but it’s good enough for me.
* The biggest loser of a Bynum/Bosh trade is Lamar Odom, who will have both his minutes and his shots taken from him. In this situation, it becomes more likely that Odom would soon follow Bynum out the door, and that would be a travesty against a player who took a pay cut to stay with the Lakers… not even a full season ago.