After the Lakers' pathetic loss to the Phoenix Suns tonight, Kobe Bryant stated, “I wish management would come out and either trade [Pau Gasol] or not trade him." As a Laker fan, I understand Bryant's frustrations with the team -- they currently stand 5th in the Western Conference, but 8th ranked Portland and 9th ranked Denver are both only 1.5 games behind. Am I suggesting that it is a possibility that the Lakers will not make the playoffs this year? No, but how did a team go from 2nd ranked in the Western Conference last year to struggling to maintain the 5th spot this year? I just don't understand how the team has plummeted ever since last year's 2nd round playoff series against the Mavericks. Anyways, back to the subject at hand -- should management openly declare its intentions to keep or trade Pau Gasol?
I'm sorry Mr. Bryant, but I think absolutely not! I think the team should certainly consider trading Gasol before the deadline, but to openly declare such would be detrimental to the team. Gasol certainly isn't as emotional as Lamar Odom, but if the Lakers organization tells him he's certainly on the trade block it would negatively impact his game. Gasol has declared his loyalty and desire to stay with the Lakers on numerous occasions, could you imagine what it would do to his spirits if the team he loves openly states they want him out? I know what many are thinking -- the Lakers already declared their desire to oust him during the CP3-Trade-That-Wasn't, but I think, for the most part, Gasol has been able to move past that.
At the same time, I feel bad for Gasol. Yeah, it's pretty hard to feel bad for somebody making upwards of $18 million per year, but it must really suck not knowing where you're gonna be by the end of the season. His loyalty to the Lakers, and the fact that he brought two championships to the team, makes me question if the Lakers should let him know (NOT THE PUBLIC) exactly where he stands with the organization. The NBA is a business, and players are essentially tradeable assets (unless you're KB24 or Joe Johnson with a no-trade clause), but something about leaving a player like Gasol in limbo just doesn't sit well with me.
BTW, if it came down to it, I'd keep Gasol over Bynum...but that'll be discussed further in a future post :)