What would be the ramifications of a Pau Gasol to Phoenix Suns trade?
In the last few days, rumors have been swirling about a potential Pau Gasol to Phoenix trade. In this article, I’m going to discuss the nuances IF such a trade were to happen.
From what I’ve heard, the 33-year-old Spaniard could be acquired in exchange for injured Emeka Okafor’s friendly contract and either Ish Smith/Slava Kravtsov to make the money work and give the Lakers some financial relief. An alternative deal would be Okafor and one of Phoenix’s several first-round picks in the draft this summer in return for Gasol. What could be holding up the talks is which first-round pick would be dealt.
Now if Gasol does come to the valley of the sun, the undisputable fact is that things would change quite a bit. However there would be a preponderance of questions to be answered.
Regardless, whenever Gasol is out on the floor, the tempo will be slower, but he gives Phoenix another dimension (an honest-to-goodness post game) to their offense.
The biggest one in my mind is whether Gasol should start or not.
He can’t start at power forward alongside Plumlee, because the spacing is pretty much shot. For example, Pau with his back to the basket on one block and Plumlee opposite waiting for a put back, leaves no room for Dragic to penetrate.
If Plumlee is relegated to the bench and Frye gets the start, the spacing problems are solved. Dragic throws the ball to Pau in the post, who probably gets double-teamed and as an excellent passer, (especially for his position) tosses it up top to an open Frye, who drains the triple.
I can just see it now.
However, the older Frye and Gasol down low would be defensive liability. Without the much younger and athletic Plumlee to contest shots at the rim and anchor the defense, it could be an issue.
In either situation, the development of 20-year-old Alex Len gets temporarily thrown out the window (aside from blowouts) until next season. That may be acceptable, seeing as he’s so young. In the offseason, he could put on more bulk and actually be ready to make an impact as a role player with more minutes next season. The addition of Gasol could get the Suns over the hump in the playoffs, maybe even to or through the second round.
In the less-likely situation where Frye heads to the bench, it would give that second unit more fire power. Markieff could work down low, his twin Marcus could work the mid-range, while Frye fires from deep. Also, Ish Smith/Leandro Barbosa/Archie Goodwin would distribute the ball and drive to the basket.
If Plumlee was a reserve, that unit would play pretty fast. With two of the fastest guards in the NBA in Smith and Barbosa pushing the break and the mobile Morris twins and Plumlee filling the lane, they would be pretty good.
Now in the very unlikely situation where Gasol were to be the center for the second unit, they would be dominant. The offense would be stable as they could throw the ball to Gasol in the post, with the Morris brothers crashing the boards. That would make the Suns pretty formidable.
I’m OK with a Gasol trade under certain conditions. The Suns can’t give up a key piece like a Morris brother or any other players more than Smith or Kravtsov. If they have to give up one of their first-rounders, it should be the Pacers one (probably 30th overall) or none. Gasol’s age, recent injuries and fact his contract expires after the season, would be reasons for the franchise to be wary. But… I’m not against it, despite he’s kind of soft around the rim sometime and been a rival of the Suns for years.