What’s Next for Pau Gasol?
For some reason Lakers fans love to hate Pau Gasol. Maybe its because he’s not the most physical, or maybe because he doesn’t always want to take the last shot, but for some reason the seven foot Spaniard finds himself at the center of blame for large Lakers losses.
Prior to the 2012 season, Gasol was nearly dealt to the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul, but due to David Stern’s veto, Gasol remained with the purple and gold. Rather than demanding a trade like his teammate Lamar Odom, Gasol remained loyal to LA despite the fact that they did not remain loyal to him. The big question now is what will the Lakers do with him this offseason.
Although Pau had a poor game five, it is absolutely essential for the Lakers to keep him. Last season Pau averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists, making him one of the best all around big men in basketball. A lot of people claim that Pau is soft… If you’re going to try to tell me that the seventh best rebounder in the league is soft, you don’t know basketball very well. Yes, Gasol has been lackluster these last two postseasons, but he is still putting up incredible numbers considering the fact that he is the SECOND post option on the Lakers. Few teams have one big man that they consistently go to.
Now Lakers fans, lets say for some reason you still want to trade Pau, what kind of upgrade will you be getting at power forward? The only power forwards clearly better than Pau are Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin, and maybe Josh Smith or Chris Bosh. None of these power forwards are available for trade, so there is really no way for the Lakers to upgrade at the power forward position.
Gasol is also a perfect fit for what the Lakers need. With Kobe, they don’t need another best player, or guy with a big ego (Andrew Bynum in a few years). Pau is perfectly content with his role as a viable offensive option that hits the boards (regardless of what “fans” say). He doesn’t take the spotlight from Kobe, stays out of trouble, and does a phenomenal job of playing his role, so what more could you ask for?
Yes, I was frustrated when he threw the ball away in game 4, yes, I wish he was more of an enforcer on defense, but that’s not Pau’s game. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I would even sacrifice his speed and passing ability for the enforcer role previously described. That’s not who he is, so stop expecting him to have ferocious dunks and block shots into the third row.
Lastly, Los Angeles fans buy in to the thought that a player is as good as his last game. How about in the 2008-2009 postseason when Pau averaged 18, 11, and 3? Or the 2009-2010 postseason when he averaged 20, 11, and 4. Don’t give me the “that was so long ago” excuse. That was two years ago, and he still has that talent. Maybe you remember game 7 against the Nuggets when he saved the Lakers with 23 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks. Or maybe you were too ignorant to realize he had 14 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks in game 5 against Oklahoma City.
Getting rid of Pau this offseason would be DETRIMENTAL to the Lakers’ championship hopes in the near future, and I hope Mitch Kupchak is smart enough to realize that. The Lakers’ real problem is the lack of a point guard that can create his own shot, but that’s an entire different issue. Keep Gasol. Get a point guard. Lakers 2013 champs.