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Pau Gasol will not be going to the Cavs via trade. Per Brian Windhost of ESPN:

The first round pick from the Kings that the Cavs are sending to Chicago is more than mildly protected, needing to be outside the top 12 in the upcoming draft and outside the top 10 in any of the drafts from 2015 through 2017 (which, at this point, may not occur based off their franchise trajectory as of now). The right to swap 1st round picks this year is also protected and can only occur should the Cavs make the playoffs (they are currently on the outside looking in, sitting in the 12th spot).

The Lakers, then, hold onto Pau. Which, isn’t necessarily a bad thing right now.

As an aside, there is a common misconception about what a Pau Gasol trade would have meant for the Lakers, at least in relation to the deal that was supposedly on the table with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While more recent reports had the Lakers continuing to stand their ground in seeking at least one other asset (a draft pick, a young player, or an established player who could be a part of next year’s team or traded again for more assets), the key benefit  of the deal from their perspective was a financial one.

The injury-ravaged Lakers have been considering whether to execute a Gasol-for-Bynum trade because it would get them out of the luxury tax for the first time in seven years. More important than the $20 million in instant savings would be easing the pressure of going into the repeater tax in either 2015 or ’16, sources said. If a team is in the luxury tax in four out of any five years, it triggers the repeater tax.

This, of course, is very true. The Lakers stood to save a bunch of money this season AND dip below the luxury tax line. However, what’s not spelled out in that excerpt — in fact, it wasn’t really spelled out in many places — is that the Lakers will be below the luxury tax line next season simply by letting Pau Gasol’s contract expire and then renouncing his rights in free agency (which is almost a given).

What’s also not spelled out is that the Lakers, should the sentence I just typed hold true, will also find themselves below the tax line the following season simply due to CBA mechanics that make it extremely difficult to get above the luxury tax line without committing big money to your own free agents via their Bird Rights. As it stands today, the only Lakers who will be coming off the books in the summer of 2015 are Robert Sacre and Steve Nash (and potentially Nick Young and Kendall Marshall should stay with the team beyond this season). Simple math, even when accounting for free agent signings this summer and whatever draft pick is added, make it extremely difficult to get above the tax line when you consider who the Lakers would need to commit big money to.

Said another way, the Lakers are very unlikely to be a tax paying team in either of the next two seasons and, thus, are very unlikely to pay the repeater tax. If they simply let free agency play out in a normal way, they’ll avoid those heavy tax payments that were the supposed impetus to trading Gasol to the Cavs and will maintain the benefit of the flexibility that trade would have offered them anyway.

Even in saying all that, let’s not act as though the Lakers’ only chance to trade Gasol evaporated with the Cavs pulling the trigger on a deal for Deng. Gasol has played well of late — in his last 10 games he’s averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds on 51% shooting — and if his production stays relatively stable until the trade deadline the potential for trade partners to materialize could increase. We’re looking at another month or so of time before that date comes.

Whether the Lakers find a deal they like enough to follow through with a trade is another story, but it’s not impossible to imagine them finally finding some sort of package that fits into their short and long term goals for building a team. In other words, Pau may still be a Laker today but there’s still plenty of time on the calendar for that to change.

And, so, more things change, the more they stay the same. Over the next month or so, I think we’ll find this to be especially true when it comes to Pau Gasol being in the middle of trade rumors.

Well, it never stops for the Lakers. This season has been tough because of the myriad of injuries the Lakers have been getting. Add another one to the list.

The Lakers’ latest press release has Jordan Farmar out for a minimum of four weeks.

EL SEGUNDO – Lakers guard Jordan Farmar had an ultrasound test and was examined by Dr. Luga Podesta this morning after injuring his left hamstring in last night’s game versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Results show that Farmar has a tear in his left hamstring, which is expected to keep him out a minimum of four weeks.

Farmar left Tuesday’s game early due to some “tightness” on his hamstring. Now we know why.

This leaves Kendall Marshall, who was just acquired a couple of weeks ago because of the ridiculous number of injuries the team has received, as the only point guard left on the roster. Even Xavier Henry, who was a swingman playing the back-up point guard role, is out for at least the next week because of a knee injury. It looks like Marshall will play extended minutes until one of the point guards return. Steve Blake is due to be back in a few weeks from that elbow injury. Kobe Bryant, who played point guard in his short healthy stint this season, is out for a month or so. And we all have no idea when Steve Nash is coming back.

Regardless, this is just painful. All the injuries racked up has made this Laker season even tougher to watch. Farmar wasn’t exactly the savior of this franchise; the Lakers just wanted someone who can actually play point guard. And once again, we’re down to one. At least, it’s better than having NO point guards?

Farmar is averaging 8.7 points and 4.7 assists in the 22 games he has played this season. Get well soon, Jordan.

There is no doubt that Pau Gasol is not doing well physically. Eric Pincus of the LA Times noted today that in media availability after today’s practice Pau was not looking well and could hear him wheezing when he was transcribing his remarks. In that media availability it was clarified that Pau has a case of sinusitis as well as bronchitis and that he’s been on antibiotics prescribed by his doctor. So, again, Pau really is sick.

That doesn’t change the fact that missing games due to illness doesn’t exactly inspire confidence from those that rely on you to be on the court and producing. Both Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report and Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA wrote about this today, with both providing some scathing analysis of the Spaniard. A sampling:

From Ding:

But Gasol isn’t showing up now, and it’s inexcusable. The 76ers snapped a 13-game road losing streak against the Lakers, whose postgame locker room with a really tired Nick Young and newly injured Xavier Henry reeked of irrelevance more so than any previous time this season.

The deeper issue of whether the Lakers should tank or try this season is besides this point. They are absolutely committed to winning and trying to make the playoffs, and when Gasol isn’t, it’s a terrible affront to these young, hungry teammates who with him built that refreshing post-Dwight chemistry and cultivated the promise of a feel-good, underdog Lakers season.

And from McMenamin:

But here is the unwavering truth that makes the outcomes of the games almost irrelevant when considering Gasol’s lost contributions, no matter how strong or how meager they would have been: He could have played.

It was Gasol’s decision to sit out as his team extended its season-high losing streak to five with a 111-104 defeat to Philly. It’s not like he has been bedridden or completely unable to exert himself physically. According to a team source, Gasol still showed up to Lakers shootaround to lift weights Sunday, and when he told longtime trainer Gary Vitti he wanted more time to get over the infection and was not going to play against the Sixers, Vitti said to not even bother showing up to the game.

These are biting critiques of the Spaniard. And while I’ve been one of Pau’s biggest supporters during his time with the Lakers, I can’t say I disagree too much with what they’re saying. Pau is paid handsomely to perform on the court and him sitting out with illness doesn’t do much to dispel the notion that he could be doing more to help the team.

The flip-side of this coin, however, is that if Pau will not be anywhere near his best by playing through illness, should he be playing at all? During the Heat game — a game he tried to gut through while sick — he was clearly hampered and more than a step slow on both sides of the floor. He was not effective defensively or on the backboards and his inability to stay with Chris Bosh was one of the key factors in the Heat taking control of the game in the 2nd half.

I’ve gone on record saying that Pau should sit out until he’s healthy enough to play, but even in saying that I acknowledge that this isn’t as straight forward as anyone would like.

As McMenamin points out, Pau could have played. When that is the case, resentment can start to fester as the other guys bust their backsides to try and compete while a key player sits out with something that isn’t as easy to understand as a sprained joint or a broken bone. Of course, if a guy decides he can’t go, for whatever reason, it’s usually a decision that should be respected. Pau has been through countless battles and should know his body better than anyone. That should mean something, right?

In the end, what this signifies the most to me is the dwindling clout Pau seems to carry. Those championships he contributed to seem so long ago. His partner in crime and his biggest backer — Kobe Bryant — isn’t on the court to help boost him up or reinforce his importance. Pau, then, is somewhat alone as the last connection to the previous era of Lakers’ success. Rather than having the Kobe’s, Fisher’s, and Odom’s by his side he has minimum contract and low salaried guys like Henry, Young, and Meeks who are all working as hard as they can to help the team win games (and get their next contracts).

For what it’s worth, Mike D’Antoni seems to have Pau’s back in all this, saying “It’s very unfortunate a teammate would think that much less say it in the media. That’s not right. Pau was sick.” D’Antoni and Pau haven’t always seen eye to eye, but both need each other to push this team forward so it’s good to see this support.

Ultimately, however, whether he’s being called out or supported by his teammates or coaches isn’t what’s most important. That would be Pau playing and doing so as well as he can when he does get out on the floor. And that’s the rub, I guess. Because the only way for him to come out a winner in this is be the Pau that we all remember. He can’t do that missing games and he certainly can’t do it if he’s not at his best. So maybe Pau can’t win in this after all.

With Kobe Bryant sidelined at least 6 weeks and all three point guards on the shelf injured, the Lakers needed to add a warm body who can initiate an offense and soak up some minutes at the lead guard spot. Late Thursday night, they have done just that, adding 2nd year point guard Kendall Marshall.

Marshall was the Suns’ 1st round pick last season (13th overall) but sat behind Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair nearly all season. Heading into this year, he was looking to establish himself as a rotation player but with the Suns trade for Eric Bledsoe, and the regime who drafted him shown the door, he was traded as part of the Marcin Gortat to the Wizards deal that got Phoenix a first round pick in the upcoming draft. The Wizards, however, promptly waived him as they too were comfortable with their point guard rotation of John Wall and Eric Maynor.

Marshall then took his talents to the D-League, catching on with the 76ers affiliate Delaware 87ers where he averaged 19.7 points and 9.6 assists in nearly 37 minutes a game over the 7 contests he played.

On the surface, this signing fits right in with what the Lakers have done in the past year. Marshall has a nice pedigree as a prospect but, for a variety of reasons, hasn’t really shown he’s capable of playing in the NBA to this point in his career. His shooting numbers in his lone season with the Suns were not good and the fact that the Wizards waived him outright is a bit of a red flag. All that said, much Al Davis and Bill Parcells used to say in the NFL, at some point someone thought this kid was a real talent and guys like that are worth taking a chance on. Especially when the price is a minimum contract for a team desperately in need of a player at his position.

As for what Marshall can do on the court, there’s really not much to go on. Theoretically, he’s a very good set up man who has excellent court vision. He offers good size and while he’s not a great athlete, he is smart and knows where to be and when to be there. Whether that can translate into actual production on both ends of the floor remains to be seen, but even if you have doubts about this (which I do), the fact is that Marshall is young enough and still a developing prospect. Taking a chance on him being able to turn into someone who can play 10-15 minutes a night while the other point guards heal is more than worth it.

If you’re looking for a sliver of hope with Marshall being able to see court time soon, two factors work in his favor. First is that his D-League numbers, while not amazing, show he has some talent. His overall field goal percentage (41.3%) is low, but he’s shown an ability to hit the three ball (19-41 from deep in those 7 games) and his passing — his best trait by far — has translated to very good assist numbers. The other good thing about Marshall is that when he was drafted by the Suns, Alvin Gentry was still their head coach. Gentry was one of Mike D’Antoni’s top assistants with the Suns and when he took over as the head man, he essentially kept the offense intact. This should mean that Marshall has had some exposure to at least some of the principles of what the Lakers’ do on that side of the floor and that should help him transition.

Again, though, these are all just hopes. Marshall was a lottery pick from a big college program and that works in his favor. He was also traded away by the team that drafted him a year ago and promptly waived by the team that acquired him. I’m sure the Lakers hope they’re getting the guy with the ACC pedigree and elite passing skills who has a developing offensive game. On the surface it’s doubtful that ends up being the case, but based off the chances they took on Xavier Henry and Wes Johnson that have worked in their favor, maybe they catch lightning in a bottle a third time. Considering their depth issues at that spot, there’s certainly no risk in trying.

Well, when it rains, it pours for the Lakers. Steve Nash has been hurt. Jordan Farmar is out for a few more weeks with a torn hamstring. That left Steve Blake as the only legitimate healthy point guard for the Lakers.

Let’s make that zero. Here’s the official Lakers Twitter account.

Yikes.

Steve Blake has been one of the positives for the Lakers this year, carrying over his play from late last season when he basically carried the Lakers in the last week of the regular season. He’s easily having a career-high thus far with 7.7 assists per game to go with his 9.8 points per game and a career-best 3.3 rebounds per. While he’s not shooting well from the field overall (.398), he is shooting a tidy .400 from behind the arc.

Blake has been playing with a sore elbow since he hurt it against Sacramento in November 24th. He had unknowingly been playing with that torn ligament; we all thought him playing through a hurt elbow wasn’t such a huge deal at the time. But now that it’s known, he probably won’t be playing until late January at the earliest.

It’s a big blow for the Lakers because now they don’t have any true point guards; we still don’t know when Steve Nash is coming back. I assume Kobe Bryant will be starting at the 1. Xavier Henry will continue to play back-up point guard. But the Lakers will probably look into signing (or trading for?) a PG.

This is not ideal for the Lakers. Get well soon, Steve Blake.