The Los Angeles Lakers have by far been the most disappointing team in the NBA this season, if not in the history of the league. After coming into the season with championship expectations, the Lakers sit at 16-21, good enough for 11th in the Western Conference, and 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
As often happens with the Lakers, a scapegoat is selected by the fans and media in order to justify their struggles. As usual, that scapegoat is Spanish power forward Pau Gasol. Many have called Gasol "soft" and criticized his poor production this season on the offensive end, on the glass and on defense. While Gasol has not played up to his usual lofty standards, this is hardly his fault.
Pau Gasol is averaging 11.2 shots per game, which is down three shots per game from last season. He is also averaging three minutes less on the floor. More than anything else, Gasol is just being completely misused in this offense. To get maximum effectiveness from Pau, he should be a high-post player who can create looks in the low post as well.
This season, the Lakers have tried to turn Gasol into a stretch power forward. A large part of this is because the Lakers acquired superstar center Dwight Howard to take much of the low-post action that used to be Gasol's. While Gasol has an above-average jump shot for a big man, he is not the prototypical stretch 4 like Ryan Anderson or Dirk Nowitzki.
At this point, the Lakers and Pau Gasol just don't fit. L.A. does not need another low-post scorer with Dwight Howard on the team. Gasol is not being put in a position to succeed as things are, and he deserves a change of scenery in order to maximize his effectiveness and return to his All-Star form.
What should the Lakers get back in return? They don't need to ask for much. This team has the star power necessary to succeed, they just need to find some players to come in and provide energy. Just as an example, Hoops World reports the Orlando Magic have reportedly requested that any team that takes on J.J Redick also take on Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu.
The Lakers could acquire Davis to bolster the energy in the frontcourt on the defensive end, and Redick to bolster the shooting on the perimeter. Davis is also a much more willing perimeter shooter than Gasol.
This isn't any sort of trade I expect to happen, but Gasol can bring role players to Los Angeles, and those are what the Lakers desperately need right now.
It's in the best interests of both sides to part ways.