Thanks to the most shocking trade since Johan Santana was sent to Queens, Pau Gasol will team up with Andrew Bynum down low for Mitch Kupchak’s Lakers, rather than attempt to reverse grind on him.
The Lakers just became the favorites in the West by sending Memphis a birthday grab bag–the kind you thought was so cool when you were 10 until about a year later you realized that twizzlers, a noise-maker, and some $2 toy don’t make for much of a fiesta.
The breakdown of the trade is this: in exchange for Gasol and a second-round pick in 2010 the Grizz received Kwame Brown’s expiring contract, first-round picks in 2008 and 2010, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie’s contract, and the rights to Pau’s brother, Marc Gasol.
Here it is in the trade machine, but since Aaron McKie was signed today simply to make this trade work, you won’t find his name and the deal comes up as invalid. No importa, that’s what it basically comes down to anyways since McKie is just there to make the numbers work.
The big winner is obviously Los Angeles. The big loser is the rest of the NBA, because the Lakers just put themselves in position to win a title or three over the next few years, and maintain their winning ways once Kobe and Gasol level off, with new stars replacing their cap numbers and teaming up with Mr. Bynum. The deal cost LA almost nothing other than flexibility–this is their team now, but what a team it is.
Memphis didn’t get back much in personnel, but it got itself a chance to initiate full-scale rebuilding around Mike Conley–not a bad idea. Conley is a stud, and the team has some other attractive assets left, but most importantly it will have loads of cap space next summer. If the team can acquire Elton Brand it could jump back into the play-off picture rather quickly, especially with the addition of another top 5 pick to its collection of youngsters and quality vets who would be helpful elsewhere. The picks from LA will be late first-rounders, but they’re picks nonetheless. Had the team acted last year there’s a chance it could have gotten Al Jefferson or other better packages but as we’ve seen recently, most NBA GMs wait too long to act.
The Lakers now find themselves with a great coach in Phil Jackson, a finisher in Kobe, a young star center in Andrew Bynum, and two tall, versatile forwards who can pass in Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. Throw in Derek Fisher starting at the point along with Jordan Farmar, Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton, Chris Mihm, and Ronny Turiaf off the bench, and you’ve got the best roster in the NBA. Better than the Celtics, better than the Spurs, better than the Hornets, Suns, and Mavs.
This trade, assuming the team can find some quick chemistry, places LA at the top of the totem poll in the Western Conference, and sets up a potential rematch of either the Lakers-Pistons series of a few years ago or the epic rivalry the team had with the Celtics from the NBA’s early years up until the arrival of the 1990s. All this without foolishly netting Jason Kidd.
Mitch Kupchak has suddenly became a genius.