Earlier this morning, we passed along an overnight report from ESPN that revealed the Cavs and Lakers have discussed a potential swap centered around Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Such a deal would be financially motivated for the Lakers, potentially allowing the club to dip below luxury-tax territory, avoiding the repeater tax, creating some future flexibility, and saving $20MM+. It could also better position them for a top pick in the 2014 draft.
According to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers would still want assets of value in such a deal, but it’s hard to imagine the Cavs parting with a player like Dion Waiters to rent Gasol for a few months. If the Lakers want to acquire real talent, or real future assets, for Gasol, they’ll likely have to take on longer-term contracts than Bynum’s, which would only be worth $6MM if he’s waived by next Tuesday.
The Lakers have set themselves up to have room for a max-salary free agent in either the summer of 2014 or 2015, so taking back long-term salary in exchange for Pau’s expiring $19MM+ contract may not be in the team’s best interests. In fact, Gasol may end up being one of the better free agents on the market next summer, so it could make sense for the Lakers to hang onto him, re-sign him at a lower salary, and pursue other second- or third-tier free agents with their remaining room.
In a perfect world, the Lakers would find a trade for Gasol that allowed the team to cut costs and maintain flexibility while simultaneously adding young talent or future draft picks, but I’d be surprised if that perfect deal materialized. For the purposes of this poll, we’ll assume that the Lakers would have to choose between two kinds of Pau trades: One that cuts costs and increases cap flexibility without adding much real talent, or one that nets the team assets at the expense of future cap space.
So what do you think? What’s the best course of action for the Lakers with Gasol in the coming weeks?