Last week I wrote about how media and fans on both sides of the border seem to be convinced that a Pau Gasol for Andrea Bargnani trade is perfect for both the Raptors and the Lakers. You’ll recall that I ended that post by being realistic, and my realistic belief was that Mitch Kupchack, the Lakers as an organization and specifically Kobe Bryant just don’t let that trade happen.
Perhaps I was being too pessimistic.
The Lakers have yet to hit their stride, are 8-9 after 17 games and will be without Steve Nash and Steve Blake for the near future. In addition, Kobe isn’t pleased with Gasol right now, hinting after Sunday’s game that Pau might not have the same necessary mentality that himself, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard have before adding “Put your big-boy pants on.”
Bryant has been critical of Gasol in the past before the pair ultimately get past it with success and an enhanced bond, but you just get the feeling that this time it’s different. So with Kobe falling out of love with Pau, with the Lakers struggling, needing a point guard and needing a big man that fits better in Mike D’antoni’s system, perhaps this as perfect a time as ever to flip Bargnani and Jose Calderon’s expiring contract for Gasol and a backup point man.
At least that’s what veteran Bulls writer Sam Smith thinks, anyway:
“Gasol for Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. The Lakers probably give back a point, like Darius Morris,” Smith writes. “It’s obvious for the Lakers. Bargnani is the ultimate D’Antoni player,” he adds. Smith also mentions that Calderon would be a perfect candidate to back up Nash in L.A. before explaining the trade from Toronto’s perspective.
“(Colangelo) needs to make the playoffs, and despite a poor record the Raptors are close with some nice pieces in Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan. Pau could give them maybe the best front court in the East, tutor Valanciunas and could revive himself as he’s clearly disinterested now with the Lakers.”
I tend to agree with most of Smith’s take on it. The Lakers get a floor spacing big man for D’Antoni and a big man whose deficiencies are all masked by Dwight Howard. In addition, L.A. gets some point guard insurance for the season. The Raptors get a future Hall of Fame big man (who plays more like a big man than Bargnani) who still has plenty to offer but clearly needs a change of scenery.
The Lakers probably end up with a team that fits together better, while the Raptors end up with a team that should be in the playoff mix for the next two seasons until Gasol’s contract runs out. In that scenario, the hope would be that a core of Valanciunas, Lowry and DeRozan are ready to make a run on their own following Pau’s departure.
It really does seem like a deal that makes more sense with each passing day, and while I originally believed that the Lakers scoff at the proposal, perhaps the fact that others with no rooting interest in the matter (like Sam Smith) are on board means that it really is as perfect a match as we want it to be.
I still think it’s too good to be true for us Raptors fans, but I also think it’s less of a pipe dream than it was last week.