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The Los Angeles Lakers Dilemma: Keep Or Trade Pau Gasol?

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

The Los Angeles Lakers Dilemma: Keep or Trade Pau Gasol?


- Troy Ballard 

The Los Angeles Lakers are still in the thick of the Western playoff race, but with little help outside of Kobe Bryant, and the organization has been flirting with the idea of changes, starting with forward Pau Gasol.
Technically, Gasol was already traded once this season to the Houston Rockets. However, the three-team deal where the Lakers acquired Chris Paul was vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern, and all players stayed put. The other Laker that was traded in the deal, Lamar Odom, didn't take too kindly to being dealt away, and made it clear he didn't want to play in Los Angeles any longer.
Gasol was much more timid after learning he was traded. He kept a down to earth, 'I'm just going to do out and work,' sort of attitude. Los Angeles respected that, and he has remained on the team up to this point.
As of now, the Lakers are 19-13, tied for the best record with the Clippers in the Pacific. Most teams would take this number with pride, but for a team like the Los Angles Lakers, it's blasphemy. Even more alarming -- the Lakers 6-11 road record. If the Lakers have any  hopes of making a deep run in the playoffs, a change must be made.
Does that start with Gasol?
Luckily for Gasol, he has a big-friend in the Lakers' organization. After rumors started heating up about Gasol being traded away, Kobe Bryant jumped to his defense, bolding calling him a 'pillar' of the team. If nothing else, this may have bought the former All-Star forward some time in Los Angeles, but it hardly secured his future.
There's no denying that the Lakers have to make changes. That's a given. The fact that the team has an above .500 record and is starting Ron Artest and Derek Fisher is mind blowing. If nothing else, it is a testament to Bryant's value to the team.
Of the entire Lakers' roster, there are only three players that would interest other teams. Those players? Bryant, who is obviously out of the question. Andrew Bynum, who is finally turning into the dominant center Los Angeles has been hoping for, and wouldn't be traded unless Dwight Howard was involved. Gasol, who is 31-years-old, is on the outside looking in, despite Bryant's commendation.
Bryant is playing a mind-numbing 38.2 minutes per game, which is more than a player of his age should be playing in any season, let alone a condensed one. They must get Bryant help on the court, or off the bench so that he can take some minutes off. At this rate, Los Angeles is rolling the dice on a serious injury to the only player winning them games.
Gasol has only shown flashes of the dominant forward he can be, but has fallen victim to the much-dreaded inconsistency. There will be games where Gasol explodes for 25 points and 15 rebounds, but the next game will not score until the third quarter and be totally ineffective on the glass.
The Lakers lack of the bench depth kills Gasol, as when he is having off-nights, the Lakers have no one to sub into the game to relieve him. Those nights where he is 0-9 with two rebounds, that's what Los Angeles has to work with. Even with those bad numbers, it's better than the alternative on the bench.
The brass is this -- Gasol may have a few more games in Los Angeles with the backing of Bryant, but as the Lakers are coming to realize, changes have to be made to continue to win, and the best player to deal away is going to be Pau.
There is no reason to ruin one of the last few good seasons Bryant has left in him by not making moves to better the team.
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