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.