Pau Gasol has been struggling so far this season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and has recently been brought up as a possible piece the Lakers might try to move.
Iman Shumpert has been involved in New York Knicks trade talks for months, not to mention Stephen A. Smith’s report in July that Knicks owner James Dolan tried to trade the 23-year-old as punishment.
The relationship between coach Mike D’Antoni and Gasol has grown to become sour recently, and while Gasol’s contract, which pays him $19.3 million this season is an obstacle in any potential deal, the expiring contract allows it to become more feasible for the 33-year-old center to be dealt.
Multiple teams such as the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have all been in discussions with the Knicks for the services of Shumpert – the Lakers are now just the latest team to join the party. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Los Angeles has recently called New York to inquire about the third-year guard out of Georgia Tech for a possible Gasol-Shumpert swap, or something similar.
Broussard, however, did point out that no trade is imminent, and the Lakers are unlikely to strike a deal until after their four-game road trip, which ends on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol is playing through an injured ankle, and the four-time All-Star just does not look like the player of old. He is averaging 14.4 points per game on a career low 42.3 percent shooting. His footing has been mediocre and his defense has been weak.
The Lakers are in need of guard help in light of injuries to point guards Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake. While Shumpert is more of a shooting guard, Kobe Bryant has emerged as more of a playmaker in his four games since returning from an Achilles injury, averaging 6.7 assists on less than nine shots per contest.
Broussard also notes that Los Angeles has interest in center Tyson Chandler as well, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year who is currently recovering from a broken right leg suffered on November 5.
It is beginning to seem inevitable that Gasol’s tenure in Los Angeles is coming to an end, whether via trade during this season or via free agency following it. Shumpert is looking more expendable as each day passes with the quality play of rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., a fellow shooting guard. The 21-year-old out of Michigan is scoring 7 points on 45.7 percent shooting in less than 17 minutes per game, while Shumpert is averaging a career low 6.7 points on a 39.7 percent field goal percentage in almost 28 minutes per contest.
It is always entertaining to witness two of the league’s largest markets sit down at the negotiating tables, and if we have learned anything from before, it will be interesting to see what happens next.