NBA trade rumors are a-plenty right now, with everyone on the market and every team interested. Did you hear the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are shopping LeBron James and Kevin Durant, respectively? It's true, according to "sources."
Well, sources is back at it this morning, in the shape and form of Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. According to Lawrence:
The Lakers are committed to moving Pau Gasol — the fall guy for their second-round ouster against the Thunder and previous playoff failures — even if they have to take back less talent. As long as Heisley retains the Grizzlies, Memphis will always have interest. Heisley has always wanted to bring Gasol back, pairing him with his brother, Marc. ...
In order for the Grizzlies to make a trade for Pau Gasol, one of two things will have to happen. First, the Lakers and Grizzlies would have to make a deal around Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol. That's not impossible. The Lakers would gladly take on Gay and his talents -- as a need at SF -- but would they want to take on the extra $15 million in salary? Maybe. But, in moving Gay for Gasol the Grizzlies would be "stuck with" three guys to play two positions -- Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph to share time at the PF and C positions. Not necessarily a need.
The other option is, well, a deal built around Zach Randolph and Pau Gasol. This is where it would get interesting. The money probably wouldn't be an issue -- Gasol is owed $28 million over the next two while Randolph is owed $40 million over the next three years. The real issue would be, well, fit.
Would a frontcourt of Gasol, Gasol and Gay be better than a Gasol, Randolph and Gay frontcourt? Defensively, yeah, Gasol is better than Randolph. Off the glass, though, Randolph gets the nod. Offensively, well, it's probably a wash, right? So, you think, what's the bigger need? A better defensive '4' over the next two years or a better rebounding '4' over the next three years? I personally would rather the rebounding '4', especially with our team's current make-up.
I think the real key in a decision like this, though, is while the trade would seem to me to be "close," you can't discount what Randolph's leadership actually means to this team. Look, Pau Gasol is nowhere near the leader, the vocal figure, the great clubhouse equalizer, etc., that Randolph is. And that was absolutely evident this season when he opted to come off the bench after his injury because the team was playing better with Marreese Speights starting at power forward.
There's also the fact that Randolph has been a great member of the Memphis community, a great friend to the fans, and someone who has a great story of "redemption and growth" to tell. No, that doesn't win basketball games, but it means a lot to building a fanbase -- and let's not pretend like the Grizzlies don't need someone like that right now.
In sum, while the idea of having the Gasol brothers playing alongside each other, and the story behind what it would mean to have our once great franchise power forward back in the Memphis mix, would be a great front-page lede, the reasoning behind any such deal just doesn't really make sense.
We're not a championship contender if we add Gasol as the expense of Randolph, and we're no smarter a franchise if we move Rudy Gay to have a $19 million power forward come off the bench. The idea is cute, sure, but I just don't see the logic in this rumor.