According to reports, the Phoenix Suns have emerged as a real potential trade suitor for Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol.
ESPN says that the Suns desire to acquire an established player as they begin to make an unexpected playoff push this season, and Gasol fits that role perfectly.
Per the report, the Suns, by virtue of their $5.6 million in available salary-cap space, are throwing around the idea of swapping the expiring contract of injured big man Emeka Okafor for Gasol. Even though Okafor’s money for this season is roughly $14.5 million, it’s still five million less than Gasol’s $19.3. So that gives the Lakers some cap relief.
Gasol, has again, been in the center of trade talks and was nearly traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month. In response, Gasol has put together his best month of the season, averaging 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in the month of January. Even though he’s expected to miss about a week with a strained right groin, it’s not believed to be serious.
Of course, the key to the trade wouldn’t be Okafor, who won’t be expected to stick with the Lakers after this season. But it’s a first-round pick that would likely need to be attached to attract the Lakers. Before you say that Gasol isn’t worth a first-round pick, let’s remember that the Suns have four of them. FOUR.
In mid-December, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough told NBA.com that the Suns would be open to trading one of them, even though 2014 looks like a very loaded draft.
“We’re obviously all looking for stars,” McDonough said at the time, “and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available.”
The trade would be a clear win for both teams, you’d think.
The Lakers would get their cap relief and another first round pick, the Suns would get a big man, whom they can feature, and would still be able to keep the club’s projected cap-space this summer for whatever they have planned ahead.
Gasol to the Suns isn’t a forgone conclusion, but I’d be awfully surprised if it doesn’t happen. It makes sense.