Friday, February 1, 2008

Pau Gasol Traded To Lakerland - Memphis Enters Tank Mode

Several news outlets are reporting that the Memphis Grizzlies have traded PF Pau Gasol and 2010 second round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Kwame Brown, rookie point guard Javaris Crittenton, Pau's brother Marc Gasol, Arron McKie and 2 first round picks (2008 and 2010).

Why They Did It

Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis will get quite a bit of immediate and long-term cap relief from this deal as they obtain Kwame Brown's 9.075 million dollar expiring contract while shedding the roughly 63 million owed to Gasol over the next 4 seasons. In addition, Memphis adds yet another promising point guard prospect in Crittenton Lakers 2007 first round pick and has 2 extra first round picks to use in the rebuilding process.

With the added cap space and roster flexibility, Memphis might use one of their young assets - Hakim Warrick, Juan Carlos Navarro and Kyle Lowry come to mind - to facilitate a Brian Cardinal trade, saving another 18 million or so over the next three years.

Los Angeles Lakers

The addition of Pau Gasol seriously bolsters the Lakers starting lineup giving them three former all-stars, a future all-star center and a playoff-tested point guard. In addition, guys like Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza and Ronny Turiaf can comfortably settle into defined bench roles that better fit their skill set. With Gasol in the fold, the Lakers starting lineup and bench will eventually look something like this:

Starters:

PG - Derek Fisher
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Lamar Odom
PF - Pau Gasol
C - Andrew Bynum

Bench:

Jordan Farmar (PG)
Luke Walton (F)
Ronny Turiaf (C/F)
Trevor Ariza (G/F)
Sasha Vujacic (G)
Chris Mihm (C)
Vladimir Radmonovic (3 Pt)

The Lakers now run 11 men deep and provide Phil Jackson with a diverse selection of players, allowing him to adjust to the numerous styles played by their Western Conference foes. As for Gasol, his finesse game and scoring prowess make him a great fit for two reason. First, he will serve as an excellent complement to Andrew Bynum in that he doesn't need to operate primarily inside and has a great shooting touch. Second, the added scoring he brings will take pressure off of Lamar Odom on the offensive end and allow him to play a more controlled and cerebral game. Odom can turn his focus to rebounding and utilizing his excellent passing skills to make the guys around him better.

Fantasy Impact

Memphis Grizzlies

With their best player (not named Rudy Gay) Pau Gasol gone and word that Stromile Swift is on his way to New Jersey in a deal for Jason Collins, the Grizzlies are officially tanking. The immediate beneficiaries of the Gasol trade will be youngsters Hakim Warrick and Darko Milicic who now stand in line for starter minutes at power forward and center respectively. Kwame Brown should get around 25 minutes a night at center, but I wouldn't expect any significant contributions from him.

Today's deal adds yet another guard to an already backcourt as Javaris Crittenton joins Mike Conley Jr., Kyle Lowry, Juan Carlos Navarro and Mike Miller. Miller's playing time shouldn't be effected all that much; however, it will be interesting to see how the backcourt minutes are split among the other four young guards. My guess is Conley will see the most playing time upon his return followed by Lowry, Crittenton and Navarro.

Also, keep an eye on a possible Mike Miller trade before the deadline being that he is signed to a fairly affordable short-term deal and is only 27. His deadly three point shooting could be a great asset to a contender like say the San Antonio Spurs - Mike Miller for Brent Barry's expiring contract and one of Oberto or Elson makes sense for both teams.

Los Angeles Lakers

Gasol brings his 20-10 potential (more like 19-9 at this point) to LA where he should continue to post similar numbers playing in an excellent starting lineup. Gasol could see an immediate increase in his numbers while Bynum is out as he will be expected to shoulder much of the inside scoring load in the young center's absence. People forget that Gasol is a good passer and averaged 4.6 assists/game in 05-06. Playing in the triangle offense alongside several good scorers, Gasols assist average with the Lakers may be in the 4.5-5 range adding another dimension for fantasy owners.

As for the guys around him, Kobe Bryant will be mostly unaffected and continue to put up his 28-30 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while Lamar Odom who hasn't been scoring much anyway might see a bump in his assist totals. The guys most effected are the Lakers youngsters like Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaf who will see more limited minutes once Bynum returns. Jordan Farmar role and fantasy value should remain unchanged as he backups Derek Fisher.

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