Los Angeles Lakers Should Trade Pau Gasol

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers played their last game before the All-Star break Thursday night.

Pau Gasol might have already played his last game with them.

Los Angeles is much more motivated than earlier in the season to make a deal that sends out Gasol and brings in an asset in the form of a draft pick or young talent, having been forced to drop the dream scenario of Kobe Bryant and Gasol making old magic to procure a playoff berth.

Gasol is sitting out with a minor groin strain now, and it remains awfully tricky to make a deal because of his $19.3 million salary, larger even than LeBron James’ annual take. Still, the team is increasingly open to moving Gasol before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. 

The Lakers have been fine with a fallback plan of letting Gasol’s contract expire and filling his salary slot through future free agency. As disjointed and downright negative as this season has become, though—with OKC handing the Lakers a franchise-worst seventh consecutive home loss right after failing to sell out Staples Center for just the second time in 365 games—things have changed.

The 18-35 Lakers are now more likely to take whatever first-round pick they can get in a trade for Gasol when it comes down to it. In fact, general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters Thursday night, via Lakers.com, the team certainly won’t be buyers at the trade deadline this year. (The Phoenix Suns projecting to have four first-round picks in the June draft makes them still the most likely partner.)

Other veterans with expiring contracts such as Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake are also prime candidates to be moved for future considerations. If no trade with Gasol happens, that doesn’t change L.A.'s readiness to divorce at season’s end. He’s basically leaving, one way or another.

Yes, two final months for him as ...

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