Zgoda: Ponderings on Pau
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- December 6, 2012 - 11:56 PM
That Pau Gasol talk just won't go away.
And there's a good reason why the Los Angeles Lakers veteran's name just keeps coming in trade speculation concerning the Timberwolves:
Because the Wolves continue to be interested -- they have been since the 2011 draft -- and they will be until the Lakers finally trade Gasol someplace.
The lastest rumors came here on ESPN.com on Thursday in a piece that said the Lakers continue to turn away Toronto and the Wolves with their trade inquiries, at least until Lakers brass has time to assess their team when Steve Nash comes back from his leg injury.
Don't count Houston out, either, since the Rockets traded for Gasol once before and have been interested as long or almost as long as the Wolves have. I don't believe the latest speculation that the Rockets are no longer interested.
David Kahn chased Gasol three months before he hired Rick Adelman, although who knows what kind of discussion they had by then concerning the team's coaching job and is any such conversations might have included personnel talk such as acquiring Gasol.
Make no mistake: Adelman has been driving the bus on personnel moves since last summer and the Wolves' continued interest in a 32-year-old with knee tendinitis and an $18 million salary means Adelman approves of the idea, if he's not outright pushing for it.
Any such deal would have to include Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic as well as J.J. Barea and/or Luke Ridnour just so the Wolves could give back enough salary to absorb Gasol's big contract.
And it might very well have to involve a third or fourth team to make the deal work because the Lakers, if they do indeed trade Gasol, want a power forward who can shoot -- a "stretch 4" -- to put next to Dwight Howard and have other preferred targets in sight such as Toronto's Andrea Bargnani or New Orleans' Ryan Anderson rather than Williams, who indeed is a stretch 4, just not a very consistent one so far.
Why would the Wolves do it?
A few reasons:
* The Ricky Rubio connection, for one.
* Because they believe Gasol is an All-Star calibre talent and they attribute his last couple seasons not to his age or injuries but rather because the Lakers have misused him, because they still consider him perhaps the most skilled, versatile big man around.
He'd be their starting center next to Kevin Love, a one-two All-Star punch of passing big men that, yes, you could compare to the frontcourt pair Adelman had in Sacramento with Vlade Divac and Chris Webber.
Certainly he's not the kind of physical presence inside that Pekovic is, but he is much more offensively talented and you certainly can argue after the last year that Pekovic's healthy is no sure bet even if he's six years younger.
* And perhaps because the Wolves are doing the math in their head and figuring however it works, Pekovic is destined to become overpaid and they believe $19 million on Gasol for next season's final year of his contract is money better spent than a very possible maximum or near max 4-year, $60-million plus deal Pekovic could very well receive from another team next summer.
* Gasol's window -- three, four years max -- fits perfectly with both Adelman, who won't coach more than that, and Wolves owner Glen Taylor, who intends to sell the team by then.
I'd still say it's no better than a 1-in-3 chance that the Wolves make a deal because the Lakers have other, better targets in their estimation, but get used to hearing their name in the discussion because it won't ever be over until Gasol is gone from L.A., if he ever is.
© 2013 Star Tribune