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At first there were whispers. And then, after a fashion, the whispers turned to chatter. The chatter soon turned into a dull roar and now we’re into a full-on, Kevin Garnett primal scream: trade Pau Gasol.
The 2011 2nd Team All-NBAer hasn’t helped matters much: since Mike D’Antoni took over, Pau is averaging 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, to go along with .388 shooting and a woeful 64% from the charity stripe. Those stats are fine if you’re Jason Kidd or Kurt Thomas–not so much when you’re the 9th highest-paid player in the league. Gasol’s numbers have followed a frightening trend from the end of the 2010 playoffs, in which the hardened, vengeance-driven warrior was one of the driving forces behind an epic Game 7 victory over the Celtics in the Finals (just…sit on that one for a minute Lakers fans. All be well).
However, as we’ve covered extensively on this blog, and even further than that in just about any comments section, the most glaring reason behind Pau trade whispers has been his shocking lack of energy on both ends of the floor. Whether it’s been the coaching changes, lack of managerial or fan support, system demands or perhaps just plain old injury, Gasol has lacked much of the aggression and effort Los Angeles fell in love with in 2008. He’s slow to rotate on pick and roll defense, as well as perimeter closeouts, and has been shockingly sedentary finishing around the rim offensively. More importantly, the Lakers aren’t winning. With the team sitting at 8-9, Pau’s play hasn’t been the main thrust behind an under-.500 record, but when the team is losing, everything is magnified and there’s going to be a scapegoat. Pau, for the moment, seems to be that guy.
The obvious solution here? The once unthinkable: trade Pau Gasol.The question is where? And for whom?
(Read on here)