Pau Gasol for Amar’e Stoudemire? Pure Fiction

From: Andrew Hova
To: KOBEsh
Date: 8:21 pm, November 27th, 2012
Subject: Amar’e for Gasol? Oh please make it sooo

This was an e-mail I received last night as I got off of a plane. In a panic, my fingers couldn’t light up Twitter fast enough. I was stricken with my worst fear come to light–not so much that the Lakers were close to trading Gasol, but rather that New York Knick Amar’e Stoudemire would be the quarry. 

I searched and searched, but all I saw was speculation. There weren’t any solid reports, just rumors floating around that a swap of the two disaffected power forwards could be a possible deal going forward. Both men aren’t entirely happy in their current environments and roles on their current squads, and more importantly, have largely underperformed the last year and a half. Switching the two wouldn’t be an entirely far-fetched idea, based on various factors of their ages, contracts and personnel redundancies on the Lakers and Knicks, respectively.

That being said, there isn’t a scenario where this trade would be anything but an outright disaster for the Lakers.

At this point, such a pact is purely rumor-mill material. But just to nip this one right quick, there’s no way that LA should or would pursue this deal as a one-for-one switcheroo. 

1). Contract length and cost

First and foremost, this is a money issue. Pau is owed just a bit over $38 million for this season and the next. Amar’e on the other hand, is scheduled to receive over $64 million in salary over three seasons…without insurance due to his balky knees. Yes, both players might be in a simple need of a scenery change, but doing so for the sake of an extra year and nearly $26 million dollars just isn’t worth it. More importantly, this would nearly cap out the Lakers in the summer of 2014, when Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake come off the books to the tune of $60 million dollars. Amar’e’s prospective salary would shutter the possibility of bringing in another free agent swingman to pair with Dwight Howard (if he’s resigned this summer), Steve Nash (under contract for 2014-2015) and perhaps Kobe Bryant on a short-term deal. 
In terms of sheer money, this deal is so ludicrous that Chris Bridges couldn’t even sanction it. 

2). Pau Gasol is better than Amar’e Stoudemire

This is a much bigger and longer argument, but even in a down year, there’s little doubt in my mind that Pau Gasol is a far more effective player of the two:
Stoudemire 2011-2012: 17.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 bpg, .483 FG%, 17.7 PER
Gasol 2011-2013: 16.6 PPG, 10.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.3 bpg, .488 FG%, 19.5 PER

Aside from points per game (in which Pau took 1.6 less shots per game), it’s clear that Gasol is the superior guy at this point. He’s more efficient and athletic than Amar’e, and in regards to his offensive skill set, is vastly more versatile. Stoudemire is rapidly becoming more and more an outside jump shooter, as his explosiveness has wilted like Ramon Sessions in a big spot. 

Amar’e is largely a one-trick pony at this point–he can score, but without the variance in which Gasol can and also sans the more impressive rebounding and assist numbers. It goes that without saying that Stoudemire is one of the league’s worst defensive players, whereas Pau is at least adequate. 

3). Durability

But what that last bullet left out was that Pau aggregated all those statistics in 80 games, where the Knicks forward only played in 47 games in that same stretch. Stoudemire is in his 11th season, similar to Gasol, but after several knee surgeries (including one just over a month ago) and an insured contract because of the structure of his joints, there’s little doubt that Pau is the sturdier player. Reports of tendinitis not withstanding, Pau has fought through numerous maladies the past few seasons and remained on the court, while Amar’e is regularly with knee and back trouble. Gasol might not be a perfect fit for the new Lakers offense, but more importantly, he’s on the floor. Stoudemire is in a suit. 

4). It’s not 2007. It’s 2012. 

There’s a lot to be said about Amar’e’s ease running alongside Steve Nash, but let’s get real: the 2007 frontcourt dominator is not the same guy who would be at Nash’s wing. Stoudemire is a far cry from his 2007 self, and that’s not just because of Carmelo Anthony. He’s six years older and having played close to 300 games since then. I don’t have to justify more than simply watching the guy on the court–even at his 2010 apex as the savior of New York basketball and lone alpha pre-Melo, Stoudemire wasn’t exactly the same freak athlete he was just a few seasons before. 

This isn’t to say that there are no legitimate reasons to make this deal. It’s clear that Pau is uncomfortable and unhappy with his current standing in LA’s scoring attack, perching out on the perimeter shooting jumpers while his back to the basket post skills are put to waste. Stoudemire, on the other hand, is quite comfortable and happy operating with some space further out in the paint (though last year he only connected on 37 % of his long two’s–Gasol has shot 41% on those same shot this year). Moreover, as I said, Amar’e would be more than happy to receive open shots from Nash all day long and wouldn’t need much adjustment time to work with coach Mike D’Antoni, who has been with Stoudemire for the majority of the latter’s playing career. Amar’e could be a better fit for the Lakers in that they need a guy who’s comfortable and happy in his role, but all that LA would be losing in defense, rebounding and passing isn’t enough to justify a trade that will alter GM Mitch Kupchak’s long-held plans for the summer of 2014.

On so, so many levels this deal would be awful for the Lakers. For the Knicks, it would be a definite “win” trade, but Gasol, like Stoudemire when he comes back from injury, would probably play off the bench seeing as how Carmelo has played so well at power forward. This is a nice story for the rumor mill, but the Lakers front office would get absolutely destroyed if this type of deal went through.

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