If you go all the way back to the summer, the two names that have continued to pop up in trade rumours involving the Raptors are Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol. Gay was rumoured to be coveted by the Raptors before Draft night, was once again linked to the team in minor rumours and suggestions in the early parts of this season, and then eventually was acquired by Toronto after rumours became full fledged reports earlier this week. In other words, when it came to Rudy Gay and Toronto, where there was smoke, there was fire.
As RaptorBlog readers are well aware by now, Gasol’s name became a talking point in Raptors-related trade rumours at the beginning of this season, especially when the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni, who seems to have a need for a floor stretching big man to play his style of offence. Of course, the Raptors have a floor stretching big man who just happens to be near ready to return from injury, while Gasol and D’Antoni appear to be at odds with each other.
Whether the Lakers actually want any part of Andrea “Enigma Of All Enigmas” Bargnani is certainly worth a discussion on its own, but it appears as though the smoke has begun to fill the room again with respect to Gasol to Toronto rumours.
In his most recent Weekend Dime column for ESPN, Marc Stein writes that “the not-for-public-consumption message that continues to emanate from Canada is that Toronto remains intent on pursuing Gasol even after trading for Gay.” In addition, after Bryan Colangelo stated at Gay’s introductory press conference that the Raptors would be willing to spend into the luxury tax for the right transaction, Stein writes that according to a source close to the situation, “Gasol is a guy who fits those parameters, depending on the rest of potential trade principals besides Bargnani.”
At 32, Gasol isn’t what he used to be, but as I’ve mentioned several times this season, I still believe Pau can be a force in the post and that he’s both underused and under-appreciated by the Lakers and their fans. Not to mention, his massive salary isn’t much of a burden when you consider that he’ll be a $19 million-plus expiring contract next season.
So, while some might see this as another short-sighted Colangelo move, it would actually be a low-risk acquisition that could free up cap space in the future while improving the immediate fortunes of a club that just added an exciting wing player in Gay to the fold. For example – and I’m just throwing this out there since up until last night few people thought Gay and DeRozan could coexist – if the Raptors included Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan in a potential deal for Gasol, their salary commitments for next season wouldn’t change much, but they’d actually become much more financially flexible beyond 2013-14.
The real question would have to be what would it take for the Raptors to acquire Gasol, and that’s where my concerns lie. If Toronto has a legitimate chance to land the potential Hall-of-Famer without surrendering either of Jonas Valanciunas or Terrence Ross (I’m pretty confident that JV is off-limits, as he should be, and there were reports that Colangelo wouldn’t make Ross available in the Gay trade, so that’s encouraging), then I’m certainly intrigued. If they can land him without including either of their prized rookies or any of the trio of Lowry/Gay/Amir, and they rid themselves of Bargnani in the process, then I’m all for it.
Of course, this all depends on whether the Lakers are actually willing to part with Gasol, who’s been a Laker for five years now, and whether a package built around Bargnani and DeRozan would even be near worth it for L.A.
I doubt that it would be, but if it is, where do I sign?