Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers is consoled by Kobe Bryant after coming out of the game in the second half against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Gasol was rumored to be on the trading block during the off season and has been linked with multiple deals during the season.
Pau Gasol may be injured and out for a week, but that does not stop him from staying in the headlines, particularly in trade talks. Since 2010, Gasol has been constantly whispered about in trade rumors. On one occasion, he was even traded, but the NBA league office got involved and vetoed the trade.
Well, a new round of trade rumors are set to go, and the first dots are being connected with the Phoenix Suns considering a deal for the two-time champion. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Suns have an expiring contract in Emeka Okafor that would save the Lakers money by lowering their total payroll and also provide relief via insurance payments. Okafor is out injured with a long-term neck injury, and insurance will pick up 80 percent of Okafor's salary.
Phoenix has multiple picks in the upcoming draft, and they may be open to including one of them in the trade. With the Suns at 29-18 and firmly engaged in a Western Conference playoffs dream, the Suns find Gasol’s experience attractive. Despite a stretch on the sidelines for point guard Eric Gordon, the Suns remain in contention for a post-season berth. If the Suns can pick up a few games on Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix may even earn home court in the first round of the playoffs.
Financially, the trade makes sense for the Lakers, but so did the trade for Andrew Bynum. That trade fell through because the Lakers demanded the inclusion of an asset: draft pick or young prospect. Unless the Suns are willing to part with something the Lakers can use beyond the current season, Gasol will likely stay put.
However,the Suns’ reported interest kicks off another round Gasol trade talks. Until the Feb.20 NBA trade deadline or Gasol is traded, rumors should run rampant.
Prior to grabbing a seat due to a groin injury, Gasol averaged 20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 blocks over 15 games in January. Despite a couple minor injuries, Gasol has increased his production, and that raised game should garner interest from teams attempting to add experience and upgrade their interior offense.