Dec 8, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) reaches for a rebound against Toronto Raptors power forward Amir Johnson (15) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Proposal: Amir Johnson & Landry Fields for Lakers’ Pau Gasol

May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Landry Fields (2) comes off the court after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Brooklyn defeated Toronto 104-103. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

A faithful reader [hat tip: Slap Dog Hoops] wondered what I thought of the idea of the Toronto Raptors acquiring Pau Gasol. He suggested a sign-&-trade, so Pau signs a fat deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, then moves to our team in exchange for Amir Johnson and Landry Fields. I can’t test-drive this deal with the Trade Machine, because it’s in the ditch until the NBA contracts for the new season of 2014-2015 are declared valid. We’ll play with the idea anyway.

Landry is due to be paid $8.5M in this, the final season of his ludicrous contract, while Amir gets $7M, so that’s $15.5M of contract we’re dealing. I make no bones about the fact I’m interested in any deal which sees Landry off our books, although I’d be very sad to move Amir on. However, he has apparently irked our front office by refusing to have surgery on his chronically weak ankle, choosing non-invasive treatment methods instead.

Gasol, a 7-foot Spanish centre who just turned 34 years old, has been a fine player in the NBA for 13 seasons. He’s aging gracefully, similarly to Tim Duncan of the Spurs. Pau has to be concerned with the threadbare nature of the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster, and as an Unrestricted Free Agent, may not want to be part of their rebuilding. If he’s looking to win another championship in the final few seasons of a distinguished career, why not come to Toronto? The Raps are a young team on the rise. Gasol made just over $19M last season, and presumably would want a raise in what is likely his last contract. Let’s call him at $22M. Slap Dog Hoops’ idea of a sign-&-trade is the only way the Raps can entertain Gasol joining the team, as we don’t have the salary cap space otherwise.

Landry Fields has been a super-bust since his arrival, and needs to be moved on, for his sake as well as the team’s. Amir’s arrival obviously makes the deal meaningful for the Lakers, who are in desperate need of somebody decent to play with the famously demanding Kobe Bryant. Amir is low-profile, which will also appeal to Kobe, who likes most, if not all, of a room’s oxygen. If there needs to be someone else going to LA-LA Land, I’d throw in Lou Williams. [20-second timeout: I don't know anymore about how to make salaries match up. I thought I did, but somehow the Raps unloaded Steve Novak's $3.5M contract on Utah in exchange for a non-entity at less than a million. I'd welcome a Comment from a reader who can explain how the Novak deal is legitimate.]

Verdict: I’ve tried to be as unbiased as possible when presenting this deal, but sooner or later I’ve got to take a position [drum roll] – this deal is not for me. As much as I like Gasol, both on and off the court, the Raps are giving up too much. Philosphoically, I never like trading multiple players for one. The risk is too great – of injury, of lack of chemistry, of sudden loss of skill.

Over to you, Rapture Nation, and Lakers fans too. What do you think? Is this a good deal for both sides? Comments please.


Tags: Amir Johnson Landry Fields Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol Toronto Raptors

  • Jackson Sanders

    If the Raptors pay Gasol $22 million next season, deep and painful regret will soon follow. He was overpaid at $19 million last season. May want a pay raise, but won’t get one.

    On another note, don’t see the Lakers having any interest in taking back Fields to warm their bench and eat up their salary cap space this year.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Jackson:
      I hear you about Gasol. His best days are behind him.
      Fields would need to be spotlighted in pre-season for this deal to have a chance of coming to fruitition.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • JohnnyMac33

    With regards to the Novak deal the only way I think this could happen is if the Raptors get back not only the no name player (who will soon be waived) but also a trade exemption. In order for this to happen the team taking in more money in salary has to be under the cap. I think Utah is under the cap so they could be part of a trade that netted them more salary than normal trades (I think the salarys have to match up to 75% normally).

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi JM33:
      Excellent, I will see if indeed that’s the backchannel the Raps & Jazz used.
      Thanks much. I’ll give you a hat tip soon, I hope.

  • OleWhatsHisName

    RE: Novak deal. It’s simply that the Utah Jazz has plenty of cap room. Therefore – they could take back any player that would fit under their cap without regards to the salary of the player being shipped out. Trades only need to match salary when teams are at or near the cap.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Ole:
      Is it really that simple? I’ll look into it further, and thanks.

      • OleWhatsHisName

        Hi Brian,

        Yes – the exact rule is

        “Teams below the salary cap may trade without regard to salary, as long as they don’t end up more than $100,000 above the cap following a trade.”

  • Demarkus Tramail Swan

    Not happening…

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Demarkus:
      Can you flesh that out a bit? Do you think the Raps wouldn’t do the deal, or is it the Lakers who would say no?

  • M…

    I would not trade amir for no one. He is the heart and soul of the raptors

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi M…:
      Amir is a man who wants to be a career Raptor, and that’s rare and special. I hope his skills on the court can keep pace with his value to the team’s chemistry and relationship with its fans.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • M…

        I agree. I hope his ankles can hold up this season. Plus Pau’s days are near over so it’s just over rated to trade 2 players for him.

  • Guy

    I’d be interested to know how you can justify an annual salary of $22 million for Gasol? He’s worth $22 million in the same way Fields is worth $8.5 million. I like Pau as a player & think he would be a nice fit in Toronto, but the only way I’d give him that amount of money is if it were over two years. Given their respective value to the team, there’s no way I’d pay Gasol more than Lowry.

    With that in mind, If a sign/trade with the Lakers was explored, I’d look at a Fields/Hayes for Gasol/Sacre or Fields/HansBro for Gasol deal. Lakers need to realize they aren’t going anywhere next season & the expiring contracts of Fields, Hayes, &/or HansBro would serve them well next summer. Keep Amir, have him come off the bench & then re-sign him next summer to a deal similar to his current salary, & possibly a bit lower. If Gasol somehow expects $15-16 mill/yr…….no thanks.

    As for the Novak deal, a team below the cap(Utah in this case) can make a trade without regard to salary as long as they don’t end up more than $100,000 over the cap after the trade. So Utah is fine. And there is no lower limit. A team(Raptors in this case) can unload as much salary as they want or convince another team to take.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy:
      I’m not justifying a salary of $22M for Pau, but veterans ask for (and often get) too much money.
      It appears Pau is heading to the Bulls, so the opportunity is lost, if it was ever there.
      Thanks for dropping in.

  • Fastwalking

    Don’t screw around with the team chemistry – it’s just as important, and sometimes more so, than raw talent.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Fastwalking:
      Short & sweet – good for you. I’m in complete agreement. Those who aren’t should have a look at the roster of the champion Spurs. San Antonio is chemistry personified.
      Thanks for commenting.