UPDATE: According to Mike Bresnahan from the L.A. Times, the Lakers are holding out on a Gasol-to-Phoenix trade because they don’t like the draft pick they’re currently being offered by the Suns. Bresnahan says the Suns are either offering their own pick, which is currently set to be 22nd in the 2014 draft, or the Indiana Pacers’ selection, currently at 30th overall.
Bresnahan also notes that while the Lakers and Suns could still come to an agreement before the trade deadline, the purple and gold will explore other offers for Gasol at this time.
This is the smart thing for the Lakers to do: Seeing as there’s still over two weeks until the trade deadline, the Lakers are in no particular rush to move Gasol and are doing the clever thing by holding out for a better offer right now.
Yesterday, just as the Super Bowl was getting ready to kick off, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Phoenix Suns were interested in acquiring Pau Gasol. Mike Bresnahan from the Los Angeles Times later confirmed the talks, and reported that Gasol would be “comfortable” with a trade to the Suns.
Today, Paul Coro from USA Today reported that the Lakers and Suns have indeed discussed the possibility of swapping Gasol for Emeka Okafor, though he stressed that this is just one deal the Suns have considered and they have other options they are currently exploring.
Whether that’s true or just a way of Phoenix trying to gain some leverage is yet to be seen, though it would appear unlikely that the Suns would be able to swap Okafor and possibly a first-round pick for anyone better than Gasol, even if he could just end up being a three-month rental.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Daily News’ Mark Medina reports that the Lakers have had “broader discussions” with other teams involving Gasol as they gear up for the February 20 trade deadline.
Therefore, it seems that this deal is far from done and both sides apparently claim to be exploring other options at this point.
The Suns may be reluctant to surrender a first-round draft pick in exchange for Gasol, not only because he’s 33-years-old and could leave this coming summer, but also because they’d be helping the Lakers somewhat: Such a deal would save the Lakers money and could lead to a smaller deal in order to get under the luxury tax line and avoid the costly repeater tax in future seasons.
However, the argument from the Lakers’ side will be that they’re not all that desperate to move Gasol for purely financial reasons.
The purple and gold can get under the luxury tax by simply shedding around $8 million in salary over the next few weeks or by avoiding the tax altogether next season, a concept that isn’t all that far-fetched seeing as most of their players next year will likely be on small, one-year deals once again.
The Andrew Bynum trade with the Cavaliers was never completed as the Lakers held out for additional assets and Cleveland ended up finding a better (and younger) player in Luol Deng.
It’s currently unclear whether the Suns have better options out there, though on the outside it seems that parting with a low first-rounder (such as Indiana’s 2014 selection) would be an almost risk-free move for Phoenix.
Either way, it appears that the Lakers are indeed still exploring the possibility of moving Gasol before the trade deadline gets here in just over two weeks’ time. Seeing as this will be the Lakers’ last chance to cash in on Gasol’s trade value, you can probably expect more rumors to surface within the coming days, too.