I'm not one to start- or believe, for that matter- crazy trade rumors. You read and hear so much noise that most of it just goes in one ear and out the other.
But this one might be different.
Someone I trust told me a few days ago that he heard the Bulls were looking to move Boozer. I told him at the time that I didn't really buy it, at least not unless (until?) the Bulls once again fail to make it to the NBA Finals.
Then I hear a report on ESPN about how the Lakers are possibly looking to move Gasol, because Pau is still upset that they traded him to New Orleans in the Stern-nixed Chris Paul trade.
Now Hoopshype is quoting some Spanish website (Marca.com) as saying that Derrick Rose has said he wants to play with Gasol and he is tired of Boozer.
Basically, con mi Espanol no bueno, I read the article to say that the Lakers want to use Gasol to rebuild their team. That Rose thinks Gasol can have the same impact on the Bulls that he had when he came to the Lakers and helped them win a pair of titles. And that since both Rose and Gasol have Arn Tellem as an agent, that could help the trade go through.
First of all, let me say that I don't really believe Rose said that, he's never been one to voice his opinions about the roster. I don't know if he would start now, but I guess it is possible, if he's tired of watching Boozer play matador defense on too many occasions.
Taken on their own, none of these mean a whole hell of a lot. But put them together, and we may just be on to something.
First, let's look at the main subjects of the trade:
Gasol is 31, and is owed $38.2 million over the next two years.
Boozer is 30, and is owed $47.1 million over the next three years.
That's almost a wash for the NBA's two most profitable teams.
Their stats per-36 minutes are almost identical this season, so production-wise it's basically a wash.
It's no secret that Gasol is sick and tired of being underappreciated in LA, and it's obvious to anyone who follows the team that Coach Thibs can't be much of a fan of Boozer's effort on defense.
The Lakers are getting old, and certainly appear to be kind of stagnating, if not outright going backwards, since their last championship two seasons ago. Derrick Fisher especially seems to be on his last legs- and the Bulls could easily offer up CJ Watson, who would be a perfect PG to play with someone like Kobe who controls the ball so much of the time on offense.
In fact, Boozer and Watson for Gasol is almost completely salary-neutral. The Bulls would be adding just over $1.8 million in salary, however- and that would put them just over the Luxury Tax threshold. All that means is that either Lucas or Scalabrine would be added to the deal to keep the Bulls out of tax territory, or that Korver for Steve Blake would be added for the same reason.
In fact, deal of Boozer, Watson, Korver and Lucas for Gasol and Blake would actually save the Bulls just over $100,000 this season.
Can the Lakers get a better deal for Gasol? Maybe, maybe not. Are they going to get a better PF for Gasol? I don't think so.
Do the Bulls do this trade? I'm pretty sure they do. Do they really think that replacing Boozer with Gasol pushes them ahead of the Heat? It's very possible. Do the Bulls throw in the Charlotte pick? I don't think they would, although I'm pretty sure I could live with it if they did.
Do the Bulls do this deal if the Lakers want it to be Boozer, Watson and Gibson for Gasol? I think they would, there's a good chance they won't be able to pay both Gibson and Asik anyway, and Gasol consistently plays 37 minutes a night (and when I say "consistently", I mean habitually- he has averaged exactly 37.0 minutes per game this season and in each of the previous 3 seasons). The Bulls could certainly get by the rest of the season with a Gasol/Noah/Asik PF/C rotation, though I'd expect them to pick up another big at the minimum if they were to trade both Boozer and Gibson.
If the Bulls have a chance to pull off this deal, I think they have to make it work. Gasol is a much better matchup against Chris Bosh than Boozer is, and from the Lakers' point of view Boozer's jump-shooting game fits perfectly next to Bynum. Kobe, Boozer and Bynum become the most well-rounded offensive front-court in the NBA. And if you slide World Peace in at the 2 or 3 next to Kobe, that's a pretty good defensive squad as well.
We'll all find out soon enough, the NBA trade deadline is March 15th at 2 PM CT. Stay tuned...
UPDATE: Immediately after I posted this, I read these comments that Kobe made during the postgame (without being asked about it), while I was typing- basically telling the Lakers to shit or get off the pot (courtesy ABCNews.com):
"It's hard for Pau because of all this trade talk and stuff," Bryant said, bringing up the subject even though no one asked him about it. "It's hard for him to kind of invest himself completely or immerse himself completely into games when he's hearing trade talk every other day. I wish management would either come out and either trade him or not trade him."
"I talked to him a little bit about it," Bryant said. "It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. So I'd rather them not trade him at all. If they were going to do something, I wish they would just ... do it. If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out and perform and he can play and he can invest all of himself in the game."
"Listen, he's been the consummate professional," Bryant said. "He's going out and he's trying to do what he can. But let's be real. If you didn't know you were going to be here tomorrow, if your head's on the chopping block and you feel like you're just waiting, it's tough to put all yourself in the game."