The Lakers are rumored to be shopping Pau Gasol and his large $19.3M expiring contract. Many different possible destinations for Pau Gasol have been rumored including a false report out of a radio station in Los Angeles that said he was on his way to the Cavaliers. One of the more interesting possible landing spots for Pau Gasol is the Memphis Grizzlies, where Gasol started out his career before ironically getting traded to the Lakers in a deal that sent his brother Marc to the Grizzlies. While it would be fun for to see the Gasol brothers play side by side in a Grizzlies uniform, one also has to ask whether or not it makes sense for the Grizzlies to go after Pau Gasol and his humongous expiring contract. What I will do is argue in favor of the Grizzlies going after Pau Gasol.
The first question that needs to be addressed is if the Grizzlies were to go after Pau Gasol, what would they give up? The answer is that they would likely part ways with their own power forward Zach Randolph, who is making $18.3M this season and will be making $16.9M in the 2014-15 season before hitting unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015. Randolph is 1 year younger than Gasol and has two more years left on his contract. A swap of Gasol and Randolph according to ESPN’s NBA trade machine wouldn’t affect either team’s winning percentage, but that doesn’t mean both teams wouldn’t benefit from such a trade.
For the Lakers, they would be getting a player in Randolph who would be a little bit cheaper than Gasol for the rest of the season and also be able to produce with about the same level of efficiency. Plus, he is a year younger than Gasol, and still may have 4 or 5 solid seasons left in him. By making this deal, the Lakers don’t lose Gasol for nothing and also get a player who can help them compete for a few more seasons.
For the Grizzlies, acquiring Pau Gasol would be even better since they would be getting an expiring contract which would come off their books in the summer and free up cap space. Plus, they could re-sign him in the Summer for a cheaper price and still have him around for several years to help them rebuild and become a contender once more, not to mention the fact that his presence increases the odds of his brother Marc staying around. In addition to it making sense from a pure basketball perspective, the return of Pau Gasol to Memphis would energize the fan base. Grizzlies fans would come out to watch Pau Gasol in a Grizzlies uniform once more, especially knowing that he is playing with his brother. It would make for a great headline and make the Grizzlies even more relevant than they are now. Plus, Pau Gasol is a class act and would be a good face for the franchise.
While it is highly unlikely that the Grizzlies deal Zach Randolph for Pau Gasol or find some other means of getting him, the Grizzlies should strongly consider getting Pau Gasol for all the reasons I mentioned. He would help them stay competitive for several seasons, help them retain his brother Marc, and also help revitalize and reenergize the franchise and the city. The Grizzlies right now are at a point where they can either look to make moves to become contenders soon or start the process of rebuilding. If they want to become contenders soon, adding Pau Gasol could be a solid start towards building a contender in Memphis and if they want to go the route of rebuilding, adding Pau Gasol could be useful because of his expiring contract which they’ll get rid of in the Summer. No matter what path the Grizzlies want to go, trying to conjure up a deal with the Lakers for Pau Gasol makes sense, and they should do whatever they can do to get him.