The Lakers and Magic need to make a trade. No, not the one you’ve heard so much about, the one that swaps Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. This one actually makes sense. Perhaps … too much sense.
Pau Gasol for Ryan Anderson (sign and trade) and JJ Redick.
What? A non-star in exchange Pau Gasol?!
See, the issue with the Lakers isn’t exactly that they aren’t good enough as the team currently constituted, it’s that they can’t afford this team or any team that includes three max contract players. That’s because, unlike every other team in the NBA, one of those max players, a mister Kobe Bryant, is due to collect $83 million over the next three seasons.
Unless the Lakers want to find themselves deep, deep in the luxury tax imposed by the new CBA (to the tune of say $30 million) they need to find a way to win with two max contract stars. That’s why any deal for Pau, who appears to be the odd man out, will necessarily bring back either a short term contract or a few smaller contracts.
So now the Lakers thinking should be: what kind of player do we need to pair with Bryant and especially Bynum, who is 24, so that over the length of their careers we can be as awesome as possible. Well both those guys play in the post, neither shoots 3’s particularly well and if we’ve learned one thing from the past few years, it’s that a stretch four who can shoot 3’s and rebound almost always has an awesome plus/minus. Ryan Anderson checks all those boxes in a double permanent no erasies way, plus he’s a competent defender and because he came into the league at age 20, he also is only 24.
Anderson and Bynum’s games fit perfectly together and they could each play at their respective peaks for the next eight years. It’s not the most athletic frontline ever, but it’s huge and would be a nightmare to defend.
Especially with J.J. Redick in the fold. Redick is the kind of 40 percent on 3-pointers-shootin’, solid defense-providin’, no mistake-makin’ guy the Lakers have basically never had from a back-up 2-guard.
Want Kobe to stop shaving down what’s left of his knees by logging more minutes than anyone else in the NBA, give him a competent replacement!
Redick could also factor nicely with a closing lineup that shifts Bryant to small forward, or even point guard if they wanted to go with a huge lineup.
Redick makes under $7 million and Ryan Anderson will probably be between $8 and $10 million, so there’s an immediate and longterm discount for the Lakers. I’m hard-pressed to come up with a talent that would mesh better with Bynum, who isn’t really a pick-and-roll big man so much as a traditional back to the basket player, than Anderson. And at that price, the Lakers can create an offense that makes sense, instead of trying to jam three true post players into the paint.
Now let’s look at what the Magic get. Oh, just your run-of-the-mill still-in-his-prime should-have-been Finals MVP player who by the way takes care of that hole at center left by the soon departing Dwight Howard. Because that’s what Pau is: a really damn good center, and a pretty darn good power forward.
Or maybe Howard decides to stay, now that this efficient Spaniard is along for the ride … who knows?
But if things stay as they are, and Orlando can flip Howard to Atlanta (where there is speculation Chris Paul could join him) for at least Teague, and Horford/Smith (I love Smith alongside Pau), then Orlando basically reloads and is a second tier team in the East along with Indiana, Boston and I guess Brooklyn (WHAT?!).
Now, Orlando fans may not love the idea of bringing in a player so long in the tooth and might prefer a top 3 pick instead. But I’m telling you: there are worse fates than winning 50 games and a round or two in the playoffs each year. And because neither Smith nor Teague will garner top dollar, there may one day soon be money left to pay someone besides the ragged remains of Hedo Turkoglu.
To me, that Orlando team is better than any collection of talent available from Houston or Golden State. And draft picks don’t have much value unless the pick turns out well. Even lucky New Orleans, who is a few years from the playoffs, already had Eric Gordon on board before securing two top-ten picks. So unless the plan is to be putrid for at least four years, this makes Orlando interesting immediately without destroying future flexibility.
I love it for the Lakers and like it for Orlando.
What do you think?