Admittedly, I have a very tough time grading Pau Gasol based on this season’s performance. 2012-13 was easily Pau’s worst year as a professional as he averaged 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds a game while shooting a career low 46.6 percent from the field.
Pau was also plagued by injuries this season and only played in 49 games, combine this fact with his $19 million salary for next season and that he will be 33 years old in July, the Lakers can’t expect to get much in return if they move Gasol.
In Pau’s defense, it can be argued that he has been misused the past two seasons by the Lakers coaches. Mike Brown in 2011-12 wanted Andrew Bynum to be the focus of the Lakers offense in the paint which meant Pau got much of his touches in the high post. Gasol is that gifted offensively that his stats (17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists) did not suffer much that two years ago and was able to make it work.
Once Mike D’Antoni took over after the firing of Brown however, Gasol’s role in the offense was reduced to many nights standing outside of the paint and being a spectator, even losing his spot in the starting lineup to Earl Clark midway through the season. Pau’s attitude clearly soured and D’Antoni’s numerous passive aggressive barbs directed at Gasol clearly didn’t help matters.
As the season progressed however, Pau and D’Antoni did seem to find common ground and Gasol saved his best basketball of the season for the Lakers late playoff push in April. In the Lakers last 11 games, they went 9-2 and Gasol’s play was a huge reason why as he averaged 16 points, 10.6 rebounds and displayed his play-making abilities as he dished out 6.3 assists in this stretch.
Though the Lakers got swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, Gasol played admirably in the four games as he averaged 14 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the series.
My take on Pau Gasol is that it does not make sense for the Lakers to trade him, 2013-14 will be the last year of his contract. There are not too many realistic trade scenarios out there where the Lakers can honestly become a better team by dealing Gasol.
It is reasonable to believe Pau still has some good basketball left in him and if the end of the season is any indication, maybe Pau and Dwight can become that dominant paint duo that can lead the Lakers to greater heights next season.