How about a new coach?
The best Pau Gasol trade? Mike D'Antoni for any coach with enough common sense to find a way to make it work. Once again, D'Antoni being so wedded to a system has compromised his ability to maximize his roster.
With a $19 million price tag, knee tendinitis and declining statistics, Gasol will not fetch anything close to reasonable value on the trade market. This sets up as a worse situation than when the Lakers stole Gasol from the Grizzlies in the first place.
Having already excised one coach, the Lakers essentially are in face-saving mode, certainly can't move on to a third coach (fourth, if you count Bernie Bickerstaff). But Gasol hardly is the Lakers' greatest concern at the moment, even as he is being cast as such.
To Memphis for Randolph
The Lakers are crying out for help, and it's as unbecoming as a Hollywood star wearing Target on the runway.
The solution? Trade Pau Gasol, of course.
The problem? He's over the hill and overpaid, owed $19 million next season.
What might make sense: Send Gasol back to Memphis, this time for Zach Randolph and defensive ace Tony Allen. Pau reunites with brother Marc, whom L.A. sent to the Griz in the original heist.
Memphis can shed $34 million left on Randolph's contract, plus play two 7-foot siblings.
Desperate times, desperate measures for L.A. when Jack Nicholson is leaving games early.
To Toronto for Bargnani
The trade that makes the most sense is Pau Gasol to the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. The Lakers can add some spare parts to make the money work. Mike D'Antoni gets his beloved stretch power forward to fit his offense.
The Raptors get a skilled player to energize the fan base and make a playoff run to try to save the job of basketball operations chief Bryan Colangelo. The Lakers get an expiring salary in Calderon. Antawn Jamison can handle an increased role under D'Antoni's unique offensive demands. So can Earl Clark.
Still, I don't see it happening. I think the Lakers hold on to Gasol because it's almost certain Dwight Howard will leave as a free agent after this season.
To Hawks for Smith
It's time for the Lakers and Hawks to swap disgruntled power forwards. Since Pau Gasol's ($19 million) and Josh Smith's ($13.2 million) salaries do not align closely enough for a trade under NBA rules, the Lakers should include backup point guard Chris Duhon ($3.5 million) while the Hawks throw in point guard Devin Harris ($8.5 million).
Smith's presence would make former AAU teammate Dwight Howard more likely to sign that maximum contract extension this summer. The Hawks obviously covet Gasol's skill set because they inquired about a Smith-for-Gasol trade this summer.
Harris would represent a major upgrade over the Lakers' current backups at that position.
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