NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers' Pau Gasol Gone; L.A. Will Trade First Draft Pick(s) for Kevin Love

( [email protected] ) May 13, 2014 11:19 PM EDT
Pau Gasol
Gasol has been with the LA Lakers since the 2007-08 season. (Photo : NBA) 

Going, going, gone.

That could describe the last three years of Pau Gasol's tenure as a Los Angeles Laker.  

As far back as 2011, when Gasol was part of a very close three way deal with Houston and the Clippers that would have sent him to the Rockets, the team once known as 'Showtime' has been trying to deal their Center.  

Since then, the Lakers have been in other close call negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a deal built around Andrew Bynum's non-guaranteed contract.  Cleveland was reportedly shy about giving up much else for Gasol's services, so the Cavs ended up working with the Chicago Bulls in a trade that sent Luol Deng to Cleveland.  

This season is different from the last three for the Lakers for one big reason.

The W-L column.

The Lakers have slipped for a couple of years now, but this year L.A. finished the regular season at 27-55, giving them the the sixth-worst record in the league.

Because of their poor showing, the Lakers find themselves on odd ground, and will have their highest pick since they selected James Worthy No.1 overall in the 1982 draft.

That means it's almost a foregone conclusion that a Gasol trade will be part of a revamping in LA, especially since veterans Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have guaranteed contracts next year.

L.A. isn't allowed to trade their draft pick before the draft since they have already sent their 2015 first-rounder to the Phoenix Suns. It's against the rules for teams to trade first-round selections in consecutive seasons. Many insiders believe Julius Randle from Kentucky, or Noah Vonleh from Indiana would be great big man pickups for the Lakers, if Joel Embiid of Kansas is already taken.  While the Lakers must make the pick, they can deal the player after the draft, so the trading really depends on  how much the Lakers are going to shift things around, and what kind of team they want to put on the floor.  

Most recent rumors concerning Gasol suggest that the Phoenix Suns could be a likely trade partner, Phoenix is loaded with 2014 first-round draft picks, but which picks they'll be interested in parting with,  and what type of package the Lakers can create will certainly be factors.   The Lakers have to be interested in one of those picks though, because they would definitely like to gain more than just salary room when they choose not to resign the two time NBA Champion.

Kevin Love
Many teams will be interested in getting Love from the Timberwolves. (Photo: NBA)

The Lakers are also reportedly very interested in Minnesota Timberwolves Power Forward/Center Kevin Love, so any deal they could work out to gain access to Love would be enticing as well.  Many speculate that for LA to have a shot at Love, they would have to land a great lottery pick like Embiid, or Jabari Parker from Duke, and then swing a deal with the Timberwolves for their all star.

For his part, the veteran Gasol seems ready for which ever way his basketball bounces, he talked to the LA Times recently about the trade rumors-

"I've been mentally ready more or less and emotionally ready for a while now ... for three years now," Gasol said, chuckling, not needing to remind everybody that the Lakers were ready to send him to Houston as part of the vetoed three-team Chris Paul trade in December 2011.

"As we get close to it, I'm sure things will heat up at some point and we'll see if they actually fall through or they don't. Either way, I'll be ready and once that date kind of passes, just finish off the season strong and see where I'm at."

Gasol was clear that he wants to stay in LA, and he still considers the Lakers his team.