The Art of Replacing Pau Gasol
The various news rumors about the Dallas Mavs and Lamar Odom possibly revising his contract to enable him to be traded back to the Los Angeles Lakers are fascinating. While alluding that the Lamar is desperate to return to the Lakers and the Lakers interested in getting him back, none of the rumors address the issue of what would the Mavs want in return to trade Lamar back to the Lakers. It’s obvious that Mark Cuban would not be doing this unless (1) the Lakers were interested and (2) they were willing to pay something. The big question is what would it take for the Mavs to make the deal? Maybe Steve Blake would work.
The next question is what do the Lakers have in mind for Lamar Odom? The most likely answer is to back up whomever we have at power forward and reprise his success two seasons ago as NBA 6th Man of the Year. Realistically, however, getting Odom back gives the Lakers options they wouldn’t have without him. Just as he his jack-of-all trade skills provided the Lakers with great versatility on the court, Lamar Odom return to the purple and gold would give the Lakers greater flexibility in retooling the team to championship level.
First, they can trade Pau Gasol without receiving a starting power forward in return because Lamar Odom could easily slide into the starting power forward role alongside Lamar Odom. This means they can focus more on using Pau as trade bait to get a true starting point guard who can successfully defend the position and take the ball out of Kobe’s hands and make his job easier and extend his championship window without having to get a power forward back as part of the deal or involve a third team in a complicated transaction.
For example, the Lakers could seek a twist on the Pau to Houston for Lowry and Scola trade and look to improve their outside, shooting, perimeter defense, and tax situation by trading Pau Gasol ($19M/$19.3M) for Kyle Lowry ($5.7M/$6.2M), Courtney Lee ($3.2M QO), and Chase Budinger ($1.0M). The deal would not only give them the defender and playmaker they need at the point in Lowry, who shot 37% from 3, but also two great players for the bench who both shot over 40% from 3 in Lee and Budinger as well as saving the team over $18M in salary and $18M in taxes next year and getting younger, faster, and more athletic.