After endless trade rumors and uncertain offseasons, it appears Pau Gasol has finally expended his nine lives with the Lakers.
The Lakers do not expect to keep Gasol after unsuccessfully courting both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Although the Lakers would remain amenable for Gasol to stay, their numerous offers and discussions with him were contingent on Anthony joining the Lakers, according to a league source familiar with the situation. Gasol had no interest in staying if Anthony did not come here, preferring to opt choose a team that can contend next season for an NBA championship.
Gasol has not formally announced his decision. But the Lakers’ slew of moves in securing Nick Young to a four-year deal worth $21.5 million and Jordan Hill to a two-year deal worth $18 million happened after it became clear Gasol had no interest staying.
The Lakers are open toward shipping Gasol in a sign-and-trade, but that measure becomes complicated considering the team’s diminishing cap space. Larry Coon, an independent NBA salary cap expert who works as an IT director at UC Irvine, estimated that the Lakers could only sign Gasol up to $7.2 million before shipping him elsewhere if they have not signed any of the agreed deals with Lin, Young and Hill, waive Steve Nash’s $9.8 million through the stretch provision and the renounce their rights to Kent Bazemore, Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall.
The Lakers currently do not plan to waive Nash. It is possible Bazemore and Kelly re-sign with the Lakers. And Marshall has a non-guaratneed deal worth $915,000.
In general terms, the Lakers would have only been open to a sign-and-trade involving Gasol if they liked the player, received assets and the salary did not compromise their cap flexibility.
After the Lakers acquired him in 2008 from Memphis, Gasol immediately bolstered the Lakers to three NBA championships and two Finals appearances for reasons involving his versatility, strong basketball IQ and complementary personality and playing styles with Kobe Bryant. Gasol’s struggles in the 2011 NBA playoffs partly prompted the Lakers to trade him in the Chris Paul that the NBA immediately nixed. Gasol wanted to stay with the Lakers, but ongoing trade rumors, reduced and evolving roles and overlapping injuries diluted his effectiveness.
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