OK, but what if he’s a 7-foot square peg?
News story: Lakers get Pau Gasol.
Does one need to comment?
Actually one does, because it’s not as simple as it looks. If the Lakers pulled off a major theft, there were a lot of moving parts and some of them may still be moving.
Here’s what we know for sure: The Lakers just got a 7-foot, 27-year-old All-Star-caliber forward, essentially for nothing.
Aside from Kwame Brown’s huge body and the soft spot he had in Phil Jackson’s heart, he wasn’t of much use (appropriately, the Pistons played volleyball on the offensive boards at the end of his last game to nip the Lakers at the wire) and his contract and Lakers career were running out in tandem.
The Lakers loved Javaris Crittenton but Jordan Farmar has been so good, it would have taken Crittenton years to overhaul him . . . if he ever did.
Here’s the tricky part:
Lamar Odom was originally discussed in the talks between the Lakers and Memphis, according to an NBA source.
However, Memphis owner Michael Heisley, who has had the team up for sale for years and is projecting a $20-million loss this season, predicated everything on knocking as much money as he could off his payroll in this deal.
With Odom making $13.2 million this season and $14.1 million next, Heisley told his basketball people he didn’t want him.
The addition of Gasol will give the Lakers the tallest front line the NBA has ever seen. When Andrew Bynum returns, their front line will go 7-0, 7-0 and 6-11.
Of course, one of them has to guard small forwards.
With Gasol’s scoring ability and the Lakers’ huge financial commitment in him, one thing is clear:
The moment the deal went down, he replaced Odom as No. 3 Option of the Future.
This one is breathtaking even for Jerry Buss, who has long set the market when he wanted a player.
With Gasol getting $49.4 million the next three seasons and Bynum’s extension projected to kick in in 2009, the Lakers will go far over the luxury tax threshold, and this deal could cost $80 million in salary and tax over three years.
That’s how they got Gasol. No one else would step up.
The Chicago Bulls, who eyed Gasol for years, could have offered P.J. Brown’s expired $12.8-million contract and Andres Nocioni, whom Memphis wanted.
However, to put Brown’s salary in the deal, the Bulls would have had to pay luxury tax on it this season, which owner Jerry Reinsdorf refused to do.
This wasn’t the Lakers’ only option. They could have had Chicago’s Ben Wallace for Kwame Brown and Vladimir Radmanovic, according to an NBA source, incurring far less cost.
Moving Radmanovic’s contract, which has three seasons worth $19 million left, would have meant the Lakers were taking on only an additional $20 million.
However, the Lakers thought Wallace was old and diminished, which was true. He’s attitudinal, too, but I don’t think he’s as bad as he looked with the runty Bulls. He and Bynum might have been a devastating defensive tandem, but we’ll never know.
In any case, the Lakers now have another major piece and we don’t have to watch Kwame fumble passes and chase the ball around the floor.
It does bring down the curtain on an unforgettable era. When will the Lakers have another player who hits some guy on the street in the face with a birthday cake?
But enough about Kwame, forever.
The Lakers just took a big step Friday.
Into what, we’ll have to see, but it was definitely big.