The 1 Trade LA Lakers Must Consider Making This Offseason

The Los Angeles Lakers have a bevy of personnel upgrades to make before the start of the 2013-14 NBA campaign. Unfortunately for the Lakers franchise, they are frozen in anticipation of Dwight Howard's decision. 

GM Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss are curiously willing to offer Howard a budget-strapping $118 million. While I don't agree with their decision, I'll outline the first trade they should execute after locking the deal down. 

You guessed it, the seven-foot Spaniard Pau Gasol will be on the move.

Pau has given the Lakers everything he had to offer since coming over in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2007-08 season. Gasol's prime was when his inspired play helped Kobe Bryant get the Lakers two titles in 2009 and 2010. 

Pau will turn 33 over the summer, but still has three to five good years of big-man basketball in him. His finesse near the basket—both in passing and finishing—rank him very high among players his size. Gasol can also dribble well enough to get to the basket in two bounces. 

Defensively, Gasol is long and a decent rim protector, but gets pushed around by bigger centers. He is best used as a complementary scoring power forward as he was during the Andrew Bynum days. 

Anyway, I digress. Bottom line is, if the Lakers front office executes its strategy, then another team will be lucky to have Pau Gasol for the remainder of his career.

As it stands today, the Lakers will pay Gasol $19.2 million next season before he becomes one free agent among a loaded 2014 class. Moving Gasol before the start of the season would afford L.A. a bit more financial flexibility to remain relevant. 

It is in the Lakers' best interest to deal once again with the Houston Rockets. After acquiring James Harden last season for rookie-contract money—which they promptly updated to an $80...

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