Lakers Trade Rumors: Gasol To Be Dealt In Offseason?
Will Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol be teammates on the Lakers next season? (Photo: Reuters)
After a disappointing season that ended with a first-round sweep by the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers head into the offseason with more questions than answers as to how to fix their team.
The two major questions the Lakers' front office will have to address is whether to sign Dwight Howard to a long-term contract and whether or not to move Pau Gasol in the offseason.
The Lakers will certainly look for possible trades during the summer for the power forward. The problem with trading Gasol is that he is set to make $19 million in the 2013-2014 season, the final year of his contract. In order for a trade to go through, the Lakers will likely have to pick up the majority of the money owed to Gasol. In addition to having to pay Gasol while not a member of the roster, the Lakers may have to pick up other teams' bad contracts to match the salary number for the NBA to approve such a big money deal.
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There is also just one small little problem.
Kobe: I was pretty clear with Mitch. I want Pau here. Its not even a discussion w/ me. I think he gives us the best chance to win titles
— ESPNLA 710 Radio (@ESPNLA710) April 30, 2013
Byrant is set to miss most of next season while he recovers from an Achilles injury. While he wants Gasol to stay in Los Angeles, it may be financially impossible. With Gasol's $19 million salary next season and Dwight Howard's new contract, which could hit as much as $15 million, the Lakers would go over the luxury tax threshold of $72 million. That is without role players for their bench, something the Lakers need. It's almost a matter of who the Lakers will choose and who they want, Howard or Gasol. They can't afford both.
There is another course of action that the Lakers can choose to do with Gasol. The Lakers have not used their amnesty on any of their players since the rule was enacted in 2011. The amnesty rule allows an NBA team to waive a player without having that player's salary count against their salary cap. Teams can only use this provision one time. In the case of the Lakers, they can waive Gasol during the offseason and still pay him $19 million but get him off their books.
The Lakers understand what they need to do. What Kobe Bryant usually says goes, but for the franchise, it's a battle for their future. Do you keep Gasol in LA for a lame-duck season with no assurances that he will return in 2014? Do you sign Dwight Howard to a maximum contract and have the center become the face of the franchise? What do you do about the bench that features names like Earl Clark, Devin Ebanks and Robert Sacre?
Walking off the court after Game 4, Gasol knew that Tuesday night could have been his last game as a Laker. After speaking to general manager Mitch Kupchak on Wednesday, Gasol knows even more that his future is in doubt in Hollywood.
"There's a possibility that I could be gone," said Gasol after his end of season meeting with Kupchak. "There's a possibility that I could stay. I don't know exactly exact percentages of it, but I'm prepared either way."