This is a classic case of two teams struggling to live up to expectations and trying to conjure up ways to set their respective ships back on the right path.
The Lakers are 9-10, which is a fairly borderline record for a team with aspirations of winning an NBA championship. With at least four future hall-of-famers on the roster, that just won’t suffice.
Toronto is 4-15 in a year in which so many fans around the city had such high hopes for a possible return to the postseason. After a promising 2011/12 campaign which saw the team win 23 games in a shortened season (the Raptors won just 22 the prior year on a full 82 game schedule), this horrid start must be very disheartening.
It’s a step back for a franchise which is desperately trying to climb the Eastern Conference ladder.
You can’t rebuild forever.
What started as just a run-of-the-mill type rumour from a fan base looking for answers, now has some legitimacy behind it.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports recently wrote about how the rest of the league perceives a possible Gasol/Bargnani swap.
Rival executives believe the most likely landing spot for Gasol is Toronto, which could offer Andrea Bargnani in return and bolster the Lakers’ point-guard deficiency with Jose Calderon, who is backing up Kyle Lowry. Sources say Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo has shown no willingness to part with Bargnani, but if pressure mounts for him to bolster the team’s youth movement and win now by adding a veteran with All-Star credentials like Gasol, that could change.
There are plenty of reasons why this potential deal makes sense for both sides. You could probably write a book on why this could work.
Bargnani’s would be a perfect fit along with Dwight Howard in the Lakers front court with Mike D’Antoni calling the shots. Andrea could help spread the floor from the power forward position, allowing Howard to control the post, grab rebounds and score near the basket without being crowded.
Let’s face it, Bargnani does none of those things. “Superman” could certainly cover up his deficiencies.
Having a point guard like Steve Nash dictate the flow of the offense will make Andrea look like a million bucks. His numbers have gone down across the board in points (19.5 to 16.8), rebounds (5.5 to 4.4) and shooting from the field (43.2% to 39.5%) this season, which has frustrated Raptors fans to no end.
A change of scenery and a new system could do wonders for him.
Perhaps that’s what the Raptors are worried about.
The last thing Toronto management wants to see is Andrea show up in Laker country and turn into a fringe all-star who essentially helps Los Angeles get back to their winning ways and possibly return to the NBA finals.
That wouldn’t be good for the image of a franchise which has seen so many stars leave the city and find success elsewhere (Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady etc.)
As for Gasol, well, he does what Andrea doesn’t.
As a loyal fan of the Raptors, I’ve seen everything Bargnani can do over the last six or so years. With all due respect, outside of scoring, he’s fairly one-dimensional.
Gasol can rebound the basketball, defend the paint, block shots and be a force physically down low. Pairing him up with Jonas Valanciunas in the Raptors front court would not only benefit the team now, but be essential in the development of Jonas into making him a productive star in this league for years to come.
It also seems Gasol isn’t a great fit in a D’Antoni-run offense. Perhaps being the focal point once again in his career could revitalize him in a way that remaining a Laker couldn’t.
Joseph Casciaro of TheScore.com discussed the financial impact of a possible trade in a recent article as well.
For what it’s worth, Bargnani is owed $10 million this season, $10.75 million next season, and then has an early termination option before the last year of his contract, when he’ll be owed $11.5 million in 2014-15. Gasol has more than a whopping $38 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons, but he has no options and his contract comes off the books after the 2013-14 season, when as Scott had mentioned, the Raptors might be thinking about extending Kyle Lowry.
Gasol and Bargnani wouldn’t be the only pieces moved in a potential deal. With the Lakers lack of depth at the point guard position (Nash and Steve Blake are already hurt), I could easily see Toronto ship off backup guard Jose Calderon in a proposed trade. The Lakers could send a seldom used bench reserve like a Darius Morris to even things out.
In a recent story by Yahoo Sports, reports have come out confirming that trades have been offered to the Lakers, but that the team has no interest in making a move at the moment.
The Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves have both recently tried to engage the Lakers in trade discussions for Gasol, sources told ESPN.com, but the Lakers continue to tell teams that call that they will not consider dealing the Spaniard until L.A. can fully assess its roster after the return of injured point guard Steve Nash. [...]
Stretch power forward Andrea Bargnani, veteran point guard Jose Calderon and fellow vet Linas Kleiza are among the players, sources say, whom the Raptors have discussed making available to the Lakers in a deal for Gasol.
It makes sense from the Lakers perspective. Without Nash in the line-up for a prolonged period of time, there is no way of really knowing how good this team can really be with all of its pieces together.
The more and more this story unfolds, the less likely a Bargnani/Gasol swap appears to be.
You know what? I don’t buy that all offers (especially this one) are off the table.
If the Los Angeles Lakers keep struggling as they are, a deal (with Toronto or another potential partner) will happen. I can promise you that.
No one deal makes more sense than what the Raptors can offer as a package to L.A.
Whether it’s just a pipe dream or whether somewhere down the road it becomes a reality, one things for sure….
Neither team can afford to….well……keep pooping their big boy pants.
Christopher Walder is the Lead Editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You can follow him on Twitter @WALDERSPORTS