Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Two talented big men, frustrated with their current situations may soon be swapped for one another.
Gasol, 33, happens to be involved in trade rumors every season he has been with the Los Angeles Lakers, but with the team struggling it seems as though general manager Mitch Kupchak is more likely to pull the trigger on a deal. He hasn’t been happy playing in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system and his effort has also been questioned.
While there is certainly tension between Gasol and his team, it can be considered heavenly compared to what has gone on between Bynum and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 26-year-old has been suspended indefinitely from the Cavs for conduct detrimental to the team. Cleveland believes he has been disruptive and feels that the relationship between the two sides is beyond repair.
Ideally, the Cavaliers would like to work out a deal by the January 7 deadline when the second half of Bynum’s $12.25 million salary becomes guaranteed. Shipping off Gasol and his $19.2 million expiring contract will give the Lakers greater cap space for future contracts, saving them in both salary and luxury taxes.
While no deal is imminent, it is certainly fascinating that the Lakers may be willing to part ways with their best healthy player. Los Angeles would essentially be waving the proverbial white flag on the season, opting to make a deal focused with financial concerns as opposed to the possibility to win. While injury-riddled star Kobe Bryant has publicly rejected the notion of tanking, Los Angeles does not have a realistic shot of winning a title this season, let alone achieving a top spot in the Western Conference. It is also significant to note that the Lakers would want valuable pieces in return for Gasol.
The trade would certainly improve Cleveland’s roster, but there is no guarantee that Gasol would intend on signing with the Cavs come the offseason. It may be wiser to continue to shop Bynum, finding a piece that would stay in Cleveland for multiple seasons.
There have also been discussions between the Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls for a Bynum-Luol Deng swap. The Bulls, as with the Lakers, have their best player and one of the league’s superstars sidelined with an injury for an extended period of time and have a slim-to-none chance of making a deep run in the playoffs.
Gasol was involved in trade rumors with the New York Knicks as well, but the talks have seemed to die down. In 28 games this season, the five-time All-Star is averaging 14.7 points on a career-low 44.6 percent shooting while recording 9.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
Bynum, a former Laker who won two championships with the team, is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 assists with the Cavaliers in 24 games.
Both Gasol and Bynum have their flaws, but, when healthy, are talented big men who are capabale of improving franchises in need. Now, it is just about finding the right fit.
Information via Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.