It’s A Good Day To Be A Lakers Fan

Kurt —  February 2, 2008

How often have we looked at one of those seemingly lopsided trades — ones that would be protested in any fantasy league — and say, “Why can’t our GM pull one of those off?”

Well, now he has, and Mitch Kupchak deserves a lot of credit. He’s taken an unworldly amount of heat from fans and media, but note what commenter kwame a. pointed out:

every player on this team except Kobe has been acquired or drafted by Mitch.

And that is a very deep and very versatile roster. That’s what Gasol brings that will fit so well on this team and in this offense — the Lakers can be a matchup problem for just about anyone. I’ll let Reed break it down:

We also have the most flexible team in the league, with so many possible combinations.

Pure talent: Farmar, Kobe, Odom, Gasol, Bynum

Passing and intelligence: Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Odom, Gasol; or: Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Gasol, Bynum

Speed/energy: Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, Odom, Turiaf; or: Farmar, Sasha, Kobe, Ariza, Turiaf

Defense: Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Turiaf/Odom, Bynum

Shooting: Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, Radmanovic, Turiaf

Big: Kobe, Ariza, Odom, Gasol, Bynum

Small: Fisher, Farmar, Kobe, Ariza/Walton, Odom

The possibilities go on and on. This smells like a title team.

I asked the guys from the very good Three Shades of Blue blog that covers the Grizzlies for some insights into Pau. Chip sent in this:

Pau Gasol is one of the most talented big men in the game. He can score with either hand and is nearly unstoppable when aggressive against single coverage. He is also unselfish with the ball and when outnumbered is extremely good at finding the open man. His passes are usually on target which can lead to a lot of open shots for teammates. His range is almost out to the three-point line but he is most effective when his back is to the basket within a few feet of the paint. He has a quick first step that can beat most bigs to the hoop as well.

The problem for Memphis has been not having that second scorer that can keep Gasol from being constantly double teamed. Gasol is extremely weak. He is a turnover waiting to happen when holding the ball as it is easily slapped out of his hand and can easily be knocked off the post by stronger players. Most teams defend Gasol with their center because Pau wears out quickly from being leaned on and that has made him ineffective late in games. His free throw shooting has dramatically improved this season but not unlike Shaq, you don’t want him on the line when the game is in doubt.

Pau’s weaknesses on defense are well known but also somewhat exaggerated. He is adequate defending big men but struggles denying drives into the lane. In Memphis this often made him look out of place defensively since he struggled denying lay-ups from slashers in the lane and when he was able to stop the drive it was rare that someone rotated to cover his man. Gasol’s blocks usually are off the ball helping out teammates instead of in someone’s face. This gives him the reputation of being a poor defender. He isn’t great but he is better than it appeared in Memphis.

Rebounds come to Gasol because of his size but he struggles when forced to muscle a board in a crowd. His numbers usually come from long rebounds and situations when the defense is retreating on defense. He is not someone to count on getting the important boards in crunch time.

What I (and many commenters here) have noted is that the things that are weaknesses in Pau’s game are things he will not be asked to do a ton of in LA, once Bynum returns. It is Bynum that blocks shots in the paint, Bynum that grabs all those boards, Bynum that can body the big center on the other team. What I’ve seen of him, particularly in international ball where he is surrounded by good talent, is that he understands the team game. He’s got a great basketball IQ. And those things will help him thrive in Phil Jackson’s system.

Josh from Three Shades of Blue added a few quirky things to look for:

Checking for blood. He hasn’t done it much this season, but it is a Gasol staple move after getting smacked in the face and not receiving a call.

The Jersey Pop. He busted that one out this year and often does it at seemingly strange moments, like he’s not entirely sure when to use it. It is high comedy.

The way he offsets his lower jaw while shooting free throws.

On the flip side of this trade, I really hope for the best for Javaris Crittenton, I think he is very talented and when he learns to get his game under control he is going to be very good. I hope Kwame is happy wherever he ends up.

And I hope, for the sake of the fans in Memphis, that their ownership (whoever it might be by next year) and their GM really do have a good plan. As regular readers here know, I believe that organizations win – there’s a reason the Lakers win so much under Buss, that the Spurs have been so good for so long, that Detroit has done what it has done. These are organizations with a top-down plan. Memphis, if it really has one of those, is in a position with some smart drafts and signings to do what Portland had done in recent years. This kind of rebuilding chance is somewhat rare. We’ll see what they do with it.

As for me, I’m going to open some really good scotch and soak this all in for a little while longer. It’s a good day to be a Lakers fan.

Kurt

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104 responses to It’s A Good Day To Be A Lakers Fan

  1. It has been a remarkable day to be a Lakers fan. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for us!!

  2. haha, i’ve noticed the checking for blood too. but he’s european, what do you expect?!

  3. Fisher got drafted in1996 by West, so I would put him along with Kobe for players NOT drafted by Mitch on the current roster.

  4. My only concern about this trade is, what if Marc Gasol turns out to be as good as his brother? He’s the same size, plays the same position, probably learned from a lot of the same people as Pau. What if the Lakers, in pursuing their goal of “winning now” (which I totally understand, and I’m glad they’re being aggressive), gave up on a younger version of Pau who we wouldn’t have to pay as much and we wouldn’t have to give up anything for. This trade has made my day, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but fear the possibility of a suddenly much younger, bizarro-version of Pau ending up with as much talent as his brother and us missing out. Has anyone seen Marc play? Is he any good?

  5. Kurt its about time a new thread came up. I get dizzy reading all those comments from the previous thread.

    Indeed its a proud day to be a Laker. But lets not get ahead of ourselves so much… we will still be in the road trip, Bynum is still out (that news hurts, hope it isn’t true) and we now have no room for error because we have 2 bona fide all-stars and one semi-star with tons of promising talent from 1-5. We have to win now… seems like the “ride” came to an end today as the real quest begins.

    Remember how Djimon Hounsou called Maximus?
    Spaniard!

  6. Okay….I can’t help but be ecstatic over the Lakers present and future. Please excuse me for over-analyzing, but here are my two cents about the now and later….

    With Kobe still in his prime (he is only 29!!), and the fact that we are still one of the youngest teams in the league (Bynum and Farmar are 20 yrs old, Ariza is 22, Turiaf is 25, Gasol is 27) means that we are going to have a great roster for the next 5 years!

    Here’s how I would arrange the roster assuming everyone is healthy. Of course, this could be interchangeable given matchups (i.e. start Lamar instead of Ariza vs. Suns, Warriors, etc.)

    Starting Five:
    Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Gasol, Bynum (I like this lineup b/c we have good defensive up front with Kobe and Ariza, great blocking & rebounding with Bynum and Gasol, and plenty of scoring from #24 and Fisher)

    Bench Mob:
    Farmar, Sasha, Walton, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf (this is a damn deep bench with some speed and quickness!)

    Rest of Bench:
    Vlad Rad, DJ Mbenga, Chris Mihm, Coby Karl (we can easily interchange Walton and Vlad as well as go big with Mihm/Mbenga)

    Team Strengths:
    Length, Blocks, Rebounds, Versatility, Shooting, and the best closer in the game…..

    Team Weakness:
    Top-level perimeter defensive (although we do have Kobe and Ariza, we don’t have a shutdown guy like Bowen or Artest)

    Financial Implications:
    Since this summer will be our first chance to sign Bynum to a max contract, it pretty much guarantees that Lamar will be on his way out after his contract expires. This summer will be our first chance to sign Bynum to a max contract, but luckily the new contract will not go into effect until the 2009/2010 season since he still has to play out his final year of his rookie contract (2008-2009). There is no way Lakers can afford more than 3 players making $13+ million (Kobe, Pau, Bynum). Therefore, the Lakers have 2 options regarding Lamar Odom:

    1) Trade him this summer (2008) or early next year before the trading deadline (his contract year just like Kwame this year, except his contract year will be valued at $14.5 million)

    2) Let his contract run out and try to re-sign him at a cheaper price (say mid-level or $6-7 million/per year)

    I would choose option #2, only because next year, Bynum will still be cheap even if we sign him this summer to a max contract. His new contract will not go into effect till 2009-2010, which will coincide with Lamar’s current contract expiring. Therefore, we should just sign Lamar for cheaper price after his contract expires.

    As for this summer, I would try to use the mid-level to sign Sasha and Turiaf to complete our bench. I would also look to trade Chris Mihm and Vlad (or Luke) this summer or by next year’s trading deadline to free up some cap space and reduce redundancy (should be about $8.5 million). In any case, the Lakers future is so bright with this blockbuster trade. We have a serious chance to make a run at the championship for the next 5 years! The only thing I’m sad about is that we had to trade Javaris Critt…..who I think is going to be a stud in this league. However, it was a sacrifice we had to make……..

    Curious to hear your thoughts…..by the way, Lakers vs. Celtics…………wow, that would be amazing to see!

  7. Louis C., you can also ask your question this way: “what if javaris Crittenton was the next Chauncey Billups?”

    Truth of the matter is, very few knew Andrew Bynum would be this good and we still do not know how good or bad he will become. But the point is, the idea seemed a good one at the time it was conceived. These questions are the inherent risks when you trade your young players. I doubt there are those that say the Lakers did not win on this trade. Quite frankly, you could hear collective Bulls fans banging their heads as we speak… and you hear it all the way from the East Coast.

  8. Why ESPN spreading rumors that Bynum could be out for the rest of the season? Is there any credibility to this assertion?

  9. Kudos to john paxon, for not giving up luol deng for kb24 or p. gasol, mucho glacias amigo. i sincerely wish the bulls fans will go easy on you, and may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

  10. I don’t think this is a last-ditch win now deal at all, considering that pau is only 27. This is basically a move that makes us stronger for the duration of Kobe’s window, and when you have a player like Kobe you have to win while he’s still capable. Letting Kobe’s window close as you wait for Marc Gasol or Crit to develop is stupid, mostly because there will not be another Kobe waiting in the wings. He really is a player that you only see once in a very, very long time.

    @ 5: All the scouting reports I read back when we drafted Marc were that he’s more physical than his brother (which isnt saying too much since Pau is mostly finesse) but is not expected to be much more than a role player in this league. The consensus, at least at that time, was that he’s a guy who can be a role player on a good team and not much more.

    I’m not just excited about this year, but also next year. Just think, thats one more summer for Bynum to develop and train with Kareem, and time for Pau to get a bit more comfortable with the triangle (which I think is the perfect offense for him).

    Also, maybe Kareem should take some time out to teach Pau the skyhook? If there’s any big man in the league with the finesse and skill to try to consistently drain that shot, its Pau.

    Last thing, does Gasol have any good nicknames? :)

  11. Kurt, what do you consider really good scotch?

  12. @6
    Plus, the “what if” question is the same reason teams will continue to pay money to Darko, Kwame, most of the players on the Knicks.

  13. Behold:
    The quest for ping pong ball has officially taken a major development. The battles has been heating up as of lately between the different sides, which include the heats, clippers, t’wolves, sonics, and a huge underdog-the grizzlies. wait, i have to take what i just said back, coz i saw the newest champion of the grizzlies, kwame “butterfinger” brown, kwame is the most versatile ping pong ball champion i have ever seen, he used wide variety of moves to hack and chop his competitors into bits and pieces,
    first, he starts off by let a ball intended for his hit his hand and travel straight out of bound. second, he caught the ball this time, and he did a unbelievable 360 move to lose defender but the ball squirts out of his hand out of bound. then he decide no more fancy pansy move and went straight for the dunk, but he dunk on the rim and the ball got capapulted out of sight. and thats not the last, kwame is a legend when comes to free throw shooting, as he has perfected the art of airball in that area. MVP for kwame, looks like he will be the major contributor for grizzlies to get guys like k love, beasly or oj mayo. i think there is a place for everyone in the world, and kwame certainly will thrive in memphis.

  14. Has anyone seen Marc play though? I’ve seen some very brief clips of his game on YouTube, and it seems (again these are pretty brief and against weaker competition) like his game is remarkably similar to Pau’s. He’s a great low post scorer, he can rebound to an extent, he even moves similarly when he runs and posts up, and he’s at least 5 years younger (I’m not sure). Anyone have any other insight into his game?

  15. @3 — “… acquired OR drafted by Mitch” was the comment. Fisher was re-acquired last summer by Mitch as a free agent.

    @4 — Last June when the Lakers drafted Marc Gasol, the scouting reports on ESPN and various draft sites all said he was a big guy with some skill, but nowhere near the mobility or versatility of Pau. Obviously things can change, but at the time he was universally regarded as a low-ceiling prospect, a rotation player at best.

    Memphis GM Chris Wallace was quoted Friday saying that if Marc was in the draft this year he thought he’d be a high first-rounder, but I wonder if that’s just spin to sell the trade to Grizzlies fans.

  16. jellosjigglin’ February 2, 2008 at 3:58 am

    man… i cant stop scouring the net for lakers/gasol related articles. im not even sure if ill be able to sleep tonight. an amazing trade not involving any of our key players and getting an all star caliber big man in return followed by an amazing performance by kobe in toronto, flanked by 4 others in double figures (with ronny 1 point shy).

    it was a great day to be a laker fan

  17. I’ve seen Marc Gasol play several games with the Spanish national team. He was a useful rotation player on that squad, but remember that they had a lot of firepower in the backcourt. He was mainly asked to rebound and alter some shots on defense, which he did adequately in the games that Pau missed because of injury.

    That being said, if I had to put my money on it, I’d bet against him ever being more than a minor role player in the NBA. His ceiling might be te level of Chris Mihm, I would be seriously surprised if he ever could approach Pau’s success. While he has the size, he severly lacks in speed and athleticism. He can hide that better in international competition but I don’t think he has any chance of staying in front of the Amares and Dwight Howards of the NBA or getting good shots over the top of them. There is a reason he slipped so far in the draft after all.

    And for what it’s worth, his teammates on the national team often seemed to go out of their way to encourage him after mistakes he made while Pau usually was one of the guys who was looked to for inspiration. I’d rather have the guy who leads than the guy who needs to be lead, age difference or not.

  18. carter blanchard February 2, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Umm.. I’m sorry but that’s a ridiculous “what-if.” No one has ever watched Marc (as far as I know) and thought he could come close to reproducing what Pau has been able to so far. He’s not as athletic/skilled/mobile/etc.

    Hope you enjoyed that Schotch. God knows I’ve had a blast today.

  19. Kaifa, strong insight…. especially at the end.

  20. Phenomenal.
    I had to check several sites to see if it was a joke, then the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1.
    Oh ye gods… am I happy.

  21. And yes, I’ve actually seen Marc Gasol live (FIBA Championships in Japan), he’s no where near as good as Pau…

    Pau’s going to be an excellent fit in LA. Chicago fans are spewing, Spurs/Mavs/Suns are shaking.

    Bring it on!

  22. 10. louis C. Marc Gasol is a stronger version of pau gasol without face to basket abilities and a little less pass.

    Considering how the lakers are structured, i prefere having Pau. We have the center in Bynum and Marc CAN’T play the PF + he’s young to contribute the right way now, it would take him couple years working on the nba to do some damage (as it took to bynum or countryman calderon)

    I’m just cheering the trade

  23. The rest of the Western conference must be so afraid. I had a brief convo with a really close friend from the bay area who is naturally a Golden State Warriors fan. Last week he was laughing at me for their steal of Chris Webber from us, today I was rolling on the floor going crazy in joy letting him know that I wish him all the luck in the world with the old guy!!!

  24. I received a nice email from Josh (aka Spartacus), of Three Shades of Blue. It is clear how much Josh appreciates Pau and wishes him well. It’s a very good sign.

    When Shaq was lured from Orlando, local LA media promised that we would be nicer than the Floridians: rather than harrassing Shaq for missed free throws, we would complement him for drawing the fouls in the first place.

    We should have a similar attitude with Pau. We need to be like the 3 Shades of Blue bloggers, who recognized the honor of watching Pau Gasol play basketball for 6+ years.

    I believe that one of the reasons the Grizz traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers is that he deserved it. The Grizz similarly arranged circumstances in the last few days so that Damon Stoudamire could go to San Antonio. Memphis rebuilding needn’t destroy the careers of players from the Jerry West era.

    The Utah Jazz showed kindness and respect for Derek Fisher–and it took some of our bloggers half a season to fully appreciate that Derek Fisher means far more than sentiment to a team.

    As Kobe pointed out, the organization has done its part. Now it’s time to go to work.

    We need to do our part by welcoming Pau Gasol to his home in LA–where he belongs! He’s been a champion in Spain already.

  25. The current Lakers roster presents endless possibilities, especially within the triangle.

    I too believe that Gasol will present himself as a much better defensive player than any of us realize. Injuries along with the commitment to play for his countries team during the summer required him to give up some part of his game. With the Lakers he can extend himself more on defense because he will not be required to carry this team offensively.

    I am sure that Kobe will again show himself as one of the elite defensive players in this league now that he will not be required to carry the tea offensively.

  26. WOW I cant believe Mitch Kupchak pulled that off. Amazing! Although I will sorely miss J-Critt. He will still no doubt in my mind be better than Farmar. At least now he will get more playing time in Memphis and be able to exhibit his talent. AS for Kwame. Thank God he is gone. He will be out of the league after this year GUARANTEED. Also I think Marc Gasol will be a sold player as well.

    I still think Jerry West had something to do with this trade.. I believe he wanted to help the Lakers out after Kevin Mchale and Danny Ainge did their collusion trade for the Celtics.

    [edited]Wow did you see Kobes game today by the way? You could really tell that he was very excited about the trade and was playing phenomenal back to the 06 days. I love It .In the words of the great Ice Cube “Today Was a Good Day!”

  27. Can someone please confirm or deny this outlandish throwaway rumor that Ric Bucher brought up about Bynum’s knee being more serious than originally expected?

  28. Sounds like a ‘talking head’ making news again.

  29. i’m from spain.
    Marc Gasol is improving his game every season. He can defend and his athlehtism is improving also.
    He can rebound more than his brother but he isn’s as quick. His shoot is good, but not as good as his brother. Nehad (the player of New Jersey) is worse than marc for example.
    But when a euro goes to play to the NBA, you don’t know how he is going to play. It’s almost a different sport.
    I think that Marc is going to be a good nba player but not a star.

  30. 4. I think we can “what if” ourselves to death on Marc and Javaris for that matter too. We can’t lose sight of the fact that Pau is 27. Last I checked 27 is still fairly young and he has some more good years ahead. Further, what are the chances of a second round pick developing into an all-star caliber forward-center? probably not very good. I think we have been too spoiled with the quick development of Bynum. Bynum’s development has clearly been the exception to the rule.

    - On another note, I remember many bloggers on this site hinting or suggesting at something as Kobe met with Pau in Spain over the summer and then the Lakers drafting Marc. The Lakers have been working this one for some time and have really studied how Pau will fit.

  31. Kobe briefly mentioned that Barcelona meeting with Pau in an interview yesterday, saying that the two get along well. Let’s hope they had dinner together and Kobe accidentally left a copy of the Lakers’ playbook behind.

  32. Re: The ESPN rumors about Bynum’s return: right now Bucher is the only person reporting this — not the beat guys with the team every day, not guys like Heisler with good Lakers sources, not even Pincus. Bucher has Laker sources for sure, but after this summer I don’t think Lakers fans trust his report much. I’m not buying it for now.

    It brings up something interesting: Remember how Kobe got so pissed that so many private conversations went public when the Lakers were bringing Phil back? Rumor was at the time that the Lakers leaked several false rumors at the time in the office, different ones in different places, to see where the leak was. With how quietly this move was pulled off, I think it’s safe to say that leak is plugged.

  33. The trade completes the Laker rebalancing between rebuilding with youth and winning today. Memphis was probably aware of Marc’s strong improvement in Europe since he was drafted, and therefore a compensating factor for them. Javaris will be a terrific player, but the chance to get an All-Star 7-footer in his prime without touching your rotation is rare indeed. I am anxious to see how this plays out. I have no doubt that the Laker talent level is now at championship caliber and that Pau will make this obvious. The way we will perceive this trade is a straight up swap between Pau and Kwame. Let’s just say Pau won’t likely ever get booed. The tougher question I think is how Pau will respond emotionally to this change. Will he come in to prove something or be a deer in the headlight for a while? Last time I asked myself this was when we signed Vlad Rad. My guess with Pau is that he will be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Having Kobe pushing and an organization oozing with winning maturity will hopefully reinvigorate his basketball spirit closer to Team Spain and away from cellar dweller Memphis.

  34. Two other quick things leading me to break my own double post rule:

    4. Marc Gasol is supposed to be solid but not his brother. And that really comes from the already (and suddenly growing) Spanish readership of this site.

    11. I know some purists don’t think so, but I love Balvenie (aged some in sherry casks). I also got a nice bottle of Johnnie Walker Green label that I’m looking forward to.

  35. AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WE GOT GASOL!

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=xyaPTpWWRcY

    AHHHHH! KURT IM SO DAMNED PUMPED!

  36. It really is a great day to be a Laker fan. Having Pau Gasol on the team really put us into championship caliber as soon as Andrew Bynum comes back we can regain our spot as the top team in the west and we might even reach the championship. I just hope that Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza will play the they’ve played before their injury or even better.

    Go Lakers!!! WE CAN DO IT!!!

  37. The leak was John Black. He was banished the first couple weeks of the season, and you won’t see him running his mouth, or being given info anymore

  38. Celtics vs. Lakers

    KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

    vs.

    Bynum, Gasol, KB … Odom

    Positions match up nicely, and if stars align just right(no pun), we have a great, great rivalry to come with all the involved players having personal agendas too.

    It’s good to be a Lakers fan, but i think the trade, if it makes an LA-BOS final possible, will be absolutely super for the NBA.

  39. in less than 3 mos, kupchack has undone in dramatic fashion his two worst signings, cook and kwame.

    for cook and his crazy contract (plus evans) he got ariza.

    for brown’s crazy contract (plus critt and change), he got pau gasol.

    unbelievable. the man is possessed by a ghost.

  40. you know…it’s like dreaming of playing into June…didn’t want to let myself have that dream only to be let down, so for me, I was expecting to get past the first round, maybe do some damage in the second, and be proud of that much improvement from last season.
    but now…I think it would be safe to let ourselves imagine, and dream, about making it through the west and meeting the Celts in the NBA finals!
    also, if we do make it that far, wouldn’t that be an excuse for Pau to pass on the Euro games?
    personally, I’d like to see him reconsider his (understandable) loyalty to his country and take a pass on the summer games and focus on what this team can do-
    win some multiple championships!
    can you say – DYNASTY?

  41. kwame a, where did you get that piece of info from? It makes perfect sense. You are most likely correct. I haven’t heard quotes from the team spokesman in a while.

    Subluxations are not serious injuries, but can be nuisances. I think the 8 week time table is correct. Whoever said there is no pain or persistent problems with the subluxation is dead wrong. He will require treatment such as physical therapy or sports massages for the scar tissue, but a surgery will most likely not be necessary (no/little debris involved with a sublux).

    I really like the optimism on this board. “We get a former all-star and surround him with the right pieces to perform at that level again. Further, we do this without disrupting our current rotation (don’t think many of us are Kwame fans).”

  42. Wow, did Kobe have some swagger last night or what? He was having FUN! Always to me his most human quality, i love watching him have fun on the court. If only he did that more when he younger, people might like the guy more. Great to see Kobe realize what a great day it was.

    Doesn’t it seem that this trade just energized everyone — from the fan base to the players. It seems evident everyone knows what this can mean for our team. Let’s enjoy this team walking the walk now!!! Long road ahead.

    Great post, Kurt. I love your very timely ability to write posts that are reflective as a what it is like being a fan. That is what makes your blog stick-out to us Laker Fans. This site makes a day like this all that more enjoyable because i have a community to share it with. Hard to do when you live in Spurs country as i do!

    Great work, and this certainly is a day of hope that i will savor. Wow, Pau Gasol. He’ll be very easy to root for.

  43. Marc Gasol is a poor man’s Jeff Ruland. His game is below the rim, unlike his longer, quicker brother. I just hope Pau brings out his offensive arsenal he showed BEFORE he got to the NBA. His Memphis coaches camped him in the left block and left him there. In europe he made shots from all over the court. In the triangle, switching from high and low post and from left and right, he will show everyone that he is the most skilled offensive big man this side of Tim Duncan. Soft hands, quick jump, great instincts. Competitive fire honed playing for his rabid countrymen. What’s not to like?

  44. Oh and Kurt, how about a post about the Toronto game.?

  45. “Pau wears out quickly from being leaned on and that has made him ineffective late in games.”

    Maybe Bynum’s improvement can lead to a similar off season weight-room program for Gasol, to make his prime more prime.

  46. And unbelievably I still want to see what happens with Sun Yue. I must be crazy.

    But this is indeed just an incredible thing to behold. No magic wand indeed Mitch.

  47. I just found this… So funny and so 80s…

    http://my.break.com/content/view.aspx?ContentID=443902

    Just say no…

  48. Let’s calm down just a little. I LOVE the trade, but it’ll take some time for Gasol to mesh with the team, as well as the injured players to get their groove back. The foundation is set, and I expect at the very least a realistic chance at getting to the WCF.

    Right now, the Lakers are still undermanned until Bynum, et al, return, so let’s put this into context. I’d think the Lakers might be searching for a backup point at some point with a little bit of size?

  49. Now, at the end of games when Kobe runs pick and roll, he will have a guy to pick and pop with, have fish or farmar in that corner, sasha on that wing and bynum under the hoop. This will open an up an already potent lineup

  50. #40. I laughed hard when I read your shpeal on Gasol learning to have heart from playing for his – “rabid countrymen”

  51. @27 and @33 – let’s keep the source in mind (re: bynum out for the year). ric bucher is the same guy who, this past summer, adamantly stated that according to his “sources”, kobe bryant will not play another game in a Laker uniform, and we all know that that was a pile of crap. so, unless it’s reported more widespread, i wouldn’t give much credence to anything that bucher has to say.

  52. #47, I don’t think I said anything like that…

  53. The Dude Abides February 2, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Here’s the thing: even if we got back only an average big man instead of Pau, this trade would have worked. Did everyone see how much better the Lakers played last night without the Kwame liability in the game? When is the last time they had so few turnovers? Yes, Bargnani had several dunks, but he’s a seven-footer who established his outside shot in that game, so the Lakers had to honor it. How many times did the other Raptors successfully drive and dunk in that game? I don’t recall any. Ronny defends the paint well. Kwame is a matador. That lane to the rim really opens up when Kwame is playing center. Last night’s game was the epitome of addition by subtraction, and it happened at both ends of the floor.

  54. Joke of a deal … to Bulls
    ==============

    Gasol trade’s laughable terms make Bryant, the Lakers and the NBA happy, but it’s a knife to the heart for any big moves in this town. People around the NBA were stunned, especially in Chicago

    The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol on Friday for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie and two likely low, future first-round NBA draft picks?
    All of a sudden, the Lakers look big, deep and talented, a team built to attack the small-ball Suns where they’re most vulnerable.

    Kings coach Reggie Theus said he couldn’t believe the deal when he first heard.

    “I thought it was a joke at first,” he said. “I was like, No way, no way. (That kind of trade) usually doesn’t happen within your conference. From a coach’s perspective, it’s hard to see what Memphis is thinking. Obviously, it’s a great trade for the Lakers.”

  55. Oh, what a day! Think of the summer when the sky was falling for the Lakers. Kobe was waffling on every radio and TV show about wanting to be traded, calling out the front office and wishing other Lakers were traded (known through deceptive, greedy opportunists with a camera phone).

    As I thought about the summer and the relation to where the Lakers are now, I had a crazy thought. Maybe the sudden turnaround is a response to the challenge by Kobe. If so, the front office as well as his teammates have taken heed to his word. Bynum, one of the hardest hit by Kobe, definitely responded. Farmar has improved significantly in his second year. Turiaf seems like he plays with even more energy this year. Vujacic is hitting shots and playing good defense consistently now. Radmanovic is a little better, I guess. Odom… is Odom. Walton wasn’t listening.

    But the best reaction undoubtedly goes to Kupchak. What a change in reputation! From goat to go-to guy in a flash. He resigned Fisher (who never should’ve gone at all), locks up Phillip for two more years, becomes vindicatced for not trading Bynum (more thanks to Bynum himself), trades for Ariza, and now gets rid of, er, trades Kwame for Gasol. As Big Boy would say, Wowser.

    Thanks for whining Kobe. We knew you could get the squad back to the top, but we didn’t know how.

  56. I read a quote in an AZ paper about how bad things look after this trade, and this goes along with our abiding dude…
    the Lakers not only got “addition by subtraction” but they also got “addition by addition”.
    classic

    I agree dude, last night was a great example of a 5 man squad playing, (I always felt Kwame didn’t count as 1 whole player, maybe a half, cause he would dissappear for so many reasons)

  57. Heat Now Officially The League’s Worst
    ========================
    They may have an All-Star, but the Miami Heat are now also the owners of the worst record in the NBA.

    Miami’s loss, combined with Minnesota’s 104-83 win over the Los Angeles Clippers , gave the Timberwolves (10-36) a half-game edge over the Heat (9-36) in the race to occupy the NBA basement

    Ironically, It came on the same day Lakers got even better.

  58. Some Guy in San Diego February 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    This trade and roster is pretty amazing when you think about it. If the Lakers get Bynum and Ariza back healthy, there’s no reason they can’t make it at least to the WCF. Immediate contenders.
    Then when you think about how the roster will change and evolve, most likely, in the next few years.. it’s likely they’ll be contenders for at least the next 5 years.
    Think about it.
    Bynum and Farmar and (arguably) Ariza are still very much developing and have quite a bit of potential yet to fulfill.
    Turiaf and Sasha are still growing.
    Kobe’s still in his prime, So is Pau and so is Lamar.

    This team could be amazing for years.

  59. I can’t get too excited about last night’s game other than picking-up a very necessary victory, as the Raptors defense was horrible all game. i don’t expect that kind of lackluster effort to follow us along this road trip. Getting to the lane was quite easy on the Raptors interior d and the next month will get harder in that regard. We just played great defense in the 4th quarter and Kobe did his “Superman thing”. Not compaining, the odds were against us winning in a road back-to-back, but I can’t tell if it was our energized team morale that won it for us or the Raptors playing terribly that got us the ‘W’. A moot point i suppose, but if we play this motivated way the next 2 or 3 road games, you all can tell me where to shove it :)

  60. For those curious about Bynum, Mitch commented yeserday:

    http://cbs2.com/sports

    See the videos on the right, scroll to the one with mitch after 1:50 “We fully anticipate andrew to come back this year, there have been no setbacks or delays”

    Like I said on the last thread, mitch seems more reliable than Ric

  61. pau will mess up the “lakers” chemistry. substitute “kobe” for “lakers”

  62. interestingly, the lakers declined an offer including not just gasol but mike miller and hakim warrick, too–according to this:

    http://www.m3mphis.com/2008/02/02/gasol-speaks-more-trade-fallout/

  63. In case anyone is wondering exactly what we’re getting in Pau, follow this link, sit back, and smile:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXyVdRMpfq0

    Check out the driving layups/hooks with either hand…damn.

  64. I woke up three times in the middle last night, rolled over, though “Pau Gasol” and fell back asleep chuckling to myself.

    Good to see that Mitch is combating Bucher’s Bynum rumors. Bucher sometimes sensationalizes to exagerate his role in things (wasn’t he saying there was zero chance of kobe returning to the lakers over the summer?). If he’s the only person saying that, I’m not listening too hard. (Though the team said at least 8 weeks and Bynum’s conditioning will be hurt by the layoff)

  65. If you follow the link that Elyse just provided and watch the first video, it points to an interesting aspect of the trade: Kwame and Gasol were in the same draft, Kwame went 1st and Pau went 3rd. So a fair trade after all.

  66. Lamar Odom is back! February 2, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    From the article Chibi posted a link to:

    “After talking to several league executives, the Griz have pissed off the Western Conference with this deal. Elite West teams are said to be angry that the Griz just handed the Lakers an important piece in their quest to become a championship contender. Typically, All Stars are sent to the ‘other’ conference. Imagine how Atlanta and Chicago must feel right now. But those East teams weren’t offering cap room.”

    Hahaha, can you blame them?

  67. 60-The Laker win last nite was impressive. Not only was it after a heart-breaking, hard-fought game the nite before, it came against a hot team who had won 6 straight at home. The Lakers had 7 players and still, they found a way to win.

  68. Article about Marc Gasol’s reaction to the trade:

    http://www.as.com/baloncesto/articulo/marc-gasol-hermano-merece-ganador/dasbal/20080202dasdasbal_5/Tes

    Basically very happy for Pau. Deserves to be on a winner, competing for a title. Personally not thinking of himself but looking forward to going out to LA to help Pau settle in to his new home…

  69. Kobe came out last night with a spring to his step we’ve not seen this year. The whole team seems to be invigorated. With this nucleus LA once again becomes THE preferred destination for aging veterans looking to win a title. I really think this team will be more dominant than the Shaq/Kobe teams. There is more talent from 1-10 on this team I think.

    I remember talking to my dentist in the late-90′s right after the Eddie Jones trade. I was upset about the trade (EJ was my favorite Laker) and was talking about how the Lakers were blowing it. He said something about how he’d been a fan for a long time (I was like 22 then) and that the Lakers know what they’re up to. How true that it. They have once again proved that sentiment to be correct.

    Congrats to Mitch and the entire organization.

  70. Everyone needs to check out the video that #47 posted. If you weren’t smiling enough about this trade, you are definitely gonna bust out laughing. Thanks for the comedy gold. (I for one do not remember this video from the 80′s.)

  71. WOW I cant believe Mitch Kupchak pulled that off. Amazing! Although I will sorely miss J-Critt. He will still no doubt in my mind be better than Farmar. At least now he will get more playing time in Memphis and be able to exhibit his talent. AS for Kwame. Thank God he is gone. He will be out of the league after this year GUARANTEED. Also I think Marc Gasol will be a sold player as well.

    I still think Jerry West had something to do with this trade.. I believe he wanted to help the Lakers out after Kevin Mchale and Danny Ainge did their collusion trade for the Celtics.

    [edited] Wow did you see Kobes game today by the way? You could really tell that he was very excited about the trade and was playing phenomenal back to the 06 days. I love It .In the words of the great Ice Cube “Today Was a Good Day!”

  72. What do you guys think of the possibility of signing Kwame back as a back up next season? He’s going to come at a highly discounted price, he knows our system, and if Mihm doesn’t get back healthy we are going to need another back up. Kwame is never going to be a stud. But he definitely would be a good back up for 15 mins a night or when the Lakers needed a one on one post defender.

  73. “The Jersey Pop. He busted that one out this year and often does it at seemingly strange moments, like he’s not entirely sure when to use it. It is high comedy.”

    If I were playing for the Grizzlies I wouldn’t know entirely sure when to pop the team logo either. Just wouldn’t feel right. Playing for a winning organization like the Los Angeles Lakers — that’s an entirely different story.

  74. I would love to have Kwame back as a back-up playing limited minutes (and receiving *considerably* less pay, tyvm). I’ve always liked him and felt bad for him that he could not live up to expectations. I really think that he tries, but gawd, those missed lay-ups and dunks are frustrating.

  75. noooooooooo!!!!!! no more kwame brown please. what d hell you guys thinking? guy is a super turnover machine and he plays the softest Defense in the world wide world, i would pick a homeless guy off the street and plug him in the center position over kwame, kwame’s presence on the floor just totally demoralize and deflate other lakers. ronny has stepped up big time in the center possition.

  76. thanks for that 63.

    miller would’ve been nice on this team.

  77. 72 – I’d like to see it happen, but doubt it would. I’m not sure to which degree, but I think the negative PR would factor into the Lakers’ decision to pursue him.

  78. Jones – Kwame’s plus/minus is terrible. Giving him minutes hurts the team. I’d rather see them make a move for a quality veteran backup, someone like Jeff Foster of the Pacers.

  79. Or Kurt Thomas.

  80. In Pau we’re adding a guy who has a usage percentage of about ~23. Add that to the fact that Drew will probably be getting more and more touches on the block as he comes along, and I begin to wonder if maybe we should try bringing LO off the bench. His usage % is about 17 (although his career number is higher) and he’d have more of an opportunity to have plays designed around him. Also, having Lamar in the second unit would give other teams’ second units ridiculous matchup fits.

  81. carter blanchard February 2, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Absolutely no more Kwame please. I’m a firm believer that you can surround Kobe with competency and we’ll be successful. That’s why replacing Parker’s minutes with Fisher/Farmar and Kwame’s with Bynum’s has led to such success. Kwame is just not and never will be a good basketball player. Replacing him with someone who doesn’t hurt is, doesn’t turn it over, plays acceptable D, and can make open dunks, will improve this team greatly.

    Other random thought, I’ve decided, as much as I love Stu, I’m going to start watching some Lakers games with SAP on just to get into the Pau fever a little more.

  82. In terms of having LO come off the bench, I *love* (cannot emphasize that enough) that that is now an option, whether it materializes or not. Others have already mentioned this, but it is such a luxury to have guys like Farmar, LO, Ariza, and The Machine potentially on the second unit.

    So uh, to get into the Spanish fever, anyone know of any good tapas bars in L.A.? I know there’s A.O.C., but they do more of a fusion thing …

  83. So apparently, Pau will be in Washington tomorrow (he passed his physical and is arriving there tonight)–but it remains to be seen if he’ll play.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakers3feb03,1,637295.story

    I don’t know about everyone else, but that chance is worth cutting off my sleeping-in time on Sunday morning =)

    I also liked Kupchak’s comments on Kwame–he gave kind of a nice coda to the whole thing.

  84. jellosjigglin’ February 2, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    a second unit of farmar, sasha, ariza/luke, odom and turiaf? wow. hands down the deepest team in the L now.

    hey emma, check out cobras & matadors. i havent been personally but ive heard its the best tapas place in LA.

    check this link…
    http://www.yelp.com/c/la/tapas

  85. 83. If you are ever in Long Beach, there’s a place called Alegria on Pine Avenue that does good tapas.

    As for the Kwame return, the idea doesn’t bother me as much as most, especially with Pau in town. He would be a third line center, playing 15 minutes a night, that would jump to 20 minutes if Pau or Bynum is out. Two years, $2 mil per. I could live with that. However, I doubt Phil would for some reason, and if another big was available I’d consider that just for the PR reasons.

  86. This is one of those times when all my friends that don’t like basketball stop answering my phone calls because i am so excited i keep calling everyone i know, over and over and over again. Even better is calling my two best friends who live in Chicago and New York and both despise the Lakers. here is how our conversation went… i call, and with even getting in a hello, they both said, “i know, i know. I hate you all.” and then hung up on me. I’ve never been so happy to be hung up on in my life…

  87. Kurt, I somewhat agree with you on the Kwame Brown point of signing him for 2 million already. I couldn’t help but wonder how awkward it must be for Jerry Buss to see Kwame everyday, because in case most of you didn’t know, they live directly across the street from each other. Kinda funny, i know. How would you feel seeing the guy you just fired/traded away after 2 1/2 years of work have six moving trucks in front of house labeled, “GOING NOWHERE”. Kwame is for sure worth two million, which is even less than Mihm is currently making. Isiah will probably hand over the MLE for Kwame though. You know, to back up the Randolph/Curry studs he’s got in there now!!

  88. on the side note…I’m not sure if Pau will play tomorrow morning. On MEM vs UTA game they said McKie and J.Critt was with the team but Kwame was still enroute …? wtf… that means they haven’t done their physical… w/c also means that by rules Pau can’t play since everyone on the trade should pass it first.

    …funny how Kwame still affects P&G eventhough he’s gone.

    Kwame’s cake ….so delicious and moist ! — The cake is a Lie!

  89. The biggest drawback for the Lakers is Gasol’s massive contract (he is due $49.4 million through 2011 after this season) and the fact that they will now be taking an even bigger luxury-tax hit. They also give up first-round picks in 2008 and 2010.

  90. This really transforms our potential on defense. While Gasol is not a great defender by himself, his size will allow us to play a different type of defense — one that has a much higher ceiling for shutting down teams, forcing low percentage shots, and creating turnovers. The transformation began with the addition of Bynum’s shotblocking, length, and rebounding, but adding another 7 footer completes the process.

    Last year, Kwame was a strong one on one interior defender, but things fell apart against the pick and roll or penetration. Because we had no shotblocker, we had to switch on the pick and roll, leading to Kwame covering a guard and our point guard scrambling to pick up a big down low (which in turn led to too much help from others down low, leading to open shooters at the 3 pt line). When guards penetrated into the defense (which happened most possessions with Smush up top…), our bigs either gave up layups or fouled, leading to early penalties and too many minutes for our (weak) bench.

    Before his injury, Bynum and Fisher really improved the defense. Bynum’s presence made it much harder for penetrating guards to get those easy scores, especially once he learned to alter shots without fouling. Fisher and Farmar were better (but still average) at preventing penetration. They also were more dogged in fighting through the pick and roll, though still also admittedly mediocre there. But, we still had a relatively low ceiling defensively (compared to the best teams) as Bynum really did nothing more than avoid fouling on the pick and roll (allowing guards to turn the corner or take the midrange shot), and there was no secondary shotblocker to attack the ball if it came inside when Bynum was elsewhere (Turiaf is getting better at this, but he still fouls too much and is a little undersized). Too often, Bynum was out of position or just unable to cover all the ground by himself as the ball moved inside, and the team either gave up easy baskets inside or had to overhelp and leave shooters open at the 3 pt line.

    Now, with Gasol’s added size, we can employ the Spurs defensive model. While some teams try to pack it in and force teams to shoot outside, San Antonio has traditionally used their strong perimeter defenders to pressure the ball on the perimeter and feed action into their twin towers. They have always tried to pair Duncan with a strong, long, secondary big — from Robinson to Nesterovic to Oberto and Elson today. Having two interior defenders really opens up the defense: there is always one 7 footer positioned to pick up penetration (especially helpful when one gets dragged outside in a pick and roll); one big can usually roam and alter shots from the weak side, as most teams only have one strong low post scorer; the two bigs can switch inside without causing real problems; there is always one 7 footer positioned to battle for rebounds (crucial in preventing offensive rebounds when the shotblocker runs out to alter a shot); etc, etc.

    While Gasol isn’t recognized as a brilliant defender, his sheer size will allow the Lakers to really attack the ball on the perimeter and inside. Kobe and Ariza can roam around with a little more freedom to try and cause havoc with strong double teams and in the passing lanes (a la Jordan and Pippen). Add in Odom’s size at small forward and the Lakers should be able to be able to attack the ball, rotate without causing matchup problems down low, create turnovers, and generally force bad shots and control the boards. There just aren’t a lot of teams that throw out two mobile 7 footers, a 6’10″ small forward, and an all defensive shooting guard. Once Bynum is healthy and Gasol is integrated, I expect them to be one of the top 2-3 teams in FG% allowed — a key stat for any contender. Combine that with the fact that NO ONE can matchup on the other end with our size and Kobe’s all around offensive dominance, and we should be just overpowering.

    (I just cannot wait to see Amare struggle with Bynum while Marion is giving up 5 inches to Gasol and Hill is giving up 5 inches to Odom. Good times.)

  91. Reed, great breakdown of the team to come. I think your right on with the defense, you will see major improvements next season when Phil Jax has an entire off season with a healthy roster to work in his scheme. I think Phil never gets credit for the defense that his bulss played, and given what you said I think he will truly utlize the new talent he has.

    This trade did more than just help them out this year, this team is now 10 deep for the next 5 years if Jerry is willing to keep everyone around. I think that you will see major impovements from both Gasol and Odom. Gasol will move into a postion that is better fit for him and will have the triangle offense to create open shots for him. He has a great 15 footer and has a great first step on fly bys. Odom is going to thrive in the 4th scoring option

    I know that everyone is saying that we are amazing for this year, and we might be if everyone can get healthy and gasol and bynum can merge back into the team, but I am more excited about the dynasty that Mitch just built. I just hope that one day soon Mitch is seen with the great reverance that Jerry West gets.

  92. Don’t want to jinx anything, but the worst possible thing would be for Gasol to go down with an injury, which would just be typical bad luck.

    I hope by saying this I can reduce the chances of it happening (which is completely irrational, but since when has a true Laker s fan been rational?).

  93. #90, please throw some salt over your shoulder RIGHT NOW.

    reed, thanks for the long and detailed breakdown. Most of that stuff goes over my head, but I’ll be able to look for it now.

    And thanks for the tapas recs, everyone.

  94. Actually, despite Pau not being an excellent defender I think we’ll do fine. He’s not a pure center, and I think his defense looks bad because he’s in Memphis and because he’s playing a position that’s a little unnatural for him.

    Other then that, here are some reasons why I think our defense will be much improved.

    1. Easy baskets = less turnovers because of less forced shots, or shot clock violations, out of bound passes, etc. Hopefully we won’t see as many bad jump shots.

    2. Easy buckets = more energy available for defense. If Kobe doesn’t have to score 40 a game he can play better defense. Same for our other players.

    3. Smushtraction = less turnovers, less momentum killing fumbles, stolen passes, dropped balls from Kwame. On our first game after trading Kwame, we posted 5 turnovers for the ENTIRE game.

    4. Wear down the opposition = I’m pretty sure it takes a lot of energy to guard Kobe Bryant. Now try guarding Kobe Bryant and two All-Star 7 footers. Any defense that has to guard these guys is going to get tired over 48 minutes. A tired defense is a tired offense.

    We also have a giant lineup now. Fisher’s pretty big and stocky for a point guard, Kobe’s tall for a shooting guard, Lamar lengthy, and Bynum and Gasol are 7 footers who can clog the paint.

    Also the possibility of creating a lot of foul trouble for opponents.

    5. Rebounding = Gasol averages 9, Bynum averages about 10, Lamar averages about 10. That’s a lot of rebounding just between the three of them.

  95. mm, anyone else notice that Bucher’s take is nowhere to be found on the NBA page on ESPN?

  96. carter blanchard February 3, 2008 at 2:23 am

    I love it when Reed busts it out with the detailed analysis. I agree that the Suns matchup will be great fun when our full complement is back.

  97. This business about Pau Gasol not being a good defender is dubious at best. It is pretty common in the NBA to have the first option on a team play a little more passive on defense as to not pick up fouls and hurt the team by virtue of limiting their minutes and offensive production. LBJ and Tracy McGrady are prime examples of this and I think this has been what’s going on with Pau during his career.

    I think the Lakers and their fans will find him to be a very adequate defender.

    As to re-signing Kwame… at the right price I don’t see why the Lakers WOULDN’T sign him. I agree that somebody is gonna give him the mid-level. Kwame is worth that to somebody. Maybe he’ll choose to come back to the “nest.” Doubtful, really.

    With this group, the Lakers shouldn’t have a hard time signing quality veterans. The LA situation is an excellent one. The only issue I see is that what do the Lakers even really NEED at this point?

  98. Hey folks, here in LA….you can shower during the commercial break….the Laker game is on KCAL. You’ll be drinking your mocha frappa cappa dappucino during the 3rd quarter. Tip at 9 a.m. At least according to the Yahoo NBA page, the game is on NBA TV also.

  99. “Lakers public relations director John Black said an ESPN report that the Lakers traded for Gasol because Andrew Bynum could be out for the remainder of the season is erroneous. Black said the original time frame, in which Bynum would be out six more weeks, hasn’t changed. ”

    http://www.pe.com/sports/basketball/breakout/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_lakers_02.40d5aeb.html

  100. #64, thanks bro for the video link…

    this video just confirms that gasol is the right player for the lakers….i will even go with the possibility of the sighting of SKY HOOK in the future by this guy.

    he has a sweet hook shot, with both hands…
    he drives to the lane a lot (for a big guy)
    i don’t doubt his outside shooting (he’s euro afterall), but when he drives, it keeps the defense honest (unlike sarbonis who rarely drives to the hoop or ilgauskas)

    i cannot wait for the game against wiz, hopefully we could watch him for the first time as a lakers….

    GO LAKERS

  101. Cobras and Matadors is indeed tasty for tapas.

    Check out Gasol and John “Who Stole my Lucky Charms” Ireland:

    http://cbs2.com/video/?cid=92

  102. from http://www.nba.com/grizzlies

    Pau Gasol is gone to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers made the move for the present; the Grizzlies made the move for the future and both sides got what they wanted.

    I’m going to confess right here and now: I’m a Pau Gasol fan.

    I’m a fan of his professionalism, his candor, his recognition of the little people (like broadcasters) in the organization and his passion for the game.

    So it was a little stunning to see the news today. Not unexpected mind you, just stunning. I hate to see him go, but understand the Grizzlies’ rationale for making this deal.

    Pete with Pau at luncheon

    Pau was the singular lightning rod for criticism of the Memphis Grizzlies. Bad service at the concession stands? Had to be Pau’s fault. Long lines at the restrooms? Gotta be Pau’s fault. It seemed that every single failing was laid at his feet.

    Yes, there’s the issue of the 0-12 playoff record. In two of the three postseasons, Gasol scored above his season average in the playoffs (the exception being the Dallas series when he was .1 off his season average). And in two of the series, his FG% was higher than that of the rest of the team. In the Dallas series, Gasol averaged 20.3 points per game. Eddie Jones was second on the team in scoring at 10.3 (below his seasonal average) and Mike Miller was five points off his seasonal average. Before that, when the Grizzlies were swept by Phoenix, Gasol went from 17.8 points per game in the regular season and 21.3 per game. Jason Wiliams and James Posey outdid their seasonal averages, but Mike Miller and Shane Battier did not. And in the series against San Antonio, Gasol shot 57% from the floor; the rest of the team shot all of 35%.

    That stats simply don’t bear out blaming Gasol for 12 straight post-season losses. It’s a team game, and you can make the case that Gasol got limited support from the rest of his teammates.

    Whatever criticisms are leveled at him, the numbers reveal that Gasol is one of the most efficient big men in the game and is capable of going large (see the game at Golden State this season) or putting up a triple double. He is not at the elite level where he’s an automatic 20/10, but he’s more than capable of averaging those types of numbers.

    I spoke with Lee Hamilton on the Lakers’ flagship radio station, KLAC this afternoon and Laker fans are turning cartwheels on Rodeo Drive at this trade. They believe that Gasol is the piece that can help put them over the top against an aging Spurs team. With Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf handling the rough stuff, it will free Gasol to score the ball against smaller forwards. And since Pau has always been more comfortable in a team concept, he should fit perfectly into Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.

    So the Lakers will make a run at the title.

    Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will re-tool. The deal was done with an eye toward salary cap flexibility for this off-season and next. It was also made with an eye toward developing young talent such as Pau’s younger brother Marc and Javaris Crittendon (who, by the way, is the all-time leading scorer in Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy history, topping that Dwight Howard fellow). Figure that the Grizzlies go back into the lottery, get another high pick, add another free agent and pull the pieces together.

    If you want inspiration, look to the Portland Trail Blazers who went on a total youth movement. They’re the youngest team in the league and even without Greg Oden, they stand a decent chance of making the playoffs. The Grizzlies appear headed that way. This team now belongs to Mike Conley and Rudy Gay with a healthy dose of Kyle Lowry thrown in for good measure.

    As far as the Lakers go, this trade was made for now. For the Grizzlies, it was made for the future of the franchise.

  103. Hello, I’m from spain and I want to write some things about Marc Gasol:
    -He is a little bit taller than Pau (7-1,7-0) and more physical, but technically speaking he is worse than Pau and he isn’t as quick as his brother.
    -He can’t play as a PF, he’s a C (Bynum’s position, I mean, well covered for next years).
    -In some movements with his back to the basket he reminds Pau, but they are quite different players. He cannot score as Pau facing the basket.
    -He can’t neither pass nor shoot as Pau, but he’s a better rebounder.
    -He’s 23, Pau is 27 but he’s more than 6 years of experience in the NBA (although he has played in Memphis) and he’s an All-Star and the MVP of the last world championship.
    -Although he’s becoming more important, he doesn’t have much experience as a reference in the ACB (the Spanish league) though he’s nowadays the best center of the league (and possibly the best player with Ricky Rubio PG and Rudy Fernández SF), and he’s (until last summer) the reserve C in the Spanish National Team behind Felipe Reyes. He’s recieved 2 of 4 MVP of the month this season.
    -He will be a good player in the NBA, but I think he won’t be a Star.
    -He plays in the Akasvayu Girona (you can look for “Akasvayu” in the emule and maybe you’ll find some videos).
    -Videos about Marc in youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22aMGXrKRNI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maT6goJvbKs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k-RAI8lsks
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOAF2zjkRDk

    To sum up: You have done the right think giving Memphis the rights of Marc, you don’t need Marc having Bynum. And you have Pau, who is 4 years older but much more experienced. Pau’s weakness in defense has been exaggerated due to the poor defense of Memphis. In the Spanish National Team he is quite good, you can ask to Dirk Nowitski 14 pts in a game, or AK. He’s a bit weak individually speaking, but he defends quite well in a team (which excludes Memphis). He’s a talented player but he’s not selfish at all, I think he will fit with Kobe, Bynum and Odom perfectly. I’m looking forward to see them playing together. It’s gonna be AWESOME!!!

    Best regards from Spain