NBA Trade Rumors 2013: Pau Gasol to the Toronto Raptors Just Won't Go Away

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IFebruary 2, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to his score as he leaves the court after a timeout during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

With just under 20 days to go before the NBA trade deadline, rumors are again swirling of the possibility of Pau Gasol being dealt to the Toronto Raptors.

ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting the Toronto Raptors covet the Lakers' PF/C Gasol and are prepared to offer a package centered around Andrea Bargnani to get it done. With the recent departure of Jose Calderon to the Detroit Pistons, the Raptors unfortunately do not have an expiring contract to tack onto the trade to further entice the Lakers.

Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, in the wake of the Gay trade, is now openly acknowledging that he's shopping former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani. The Lakers' interest in Bargnani remains a matter of debate in the midst of the Italian's worst-ever season by far, but the not-for-public-consumption message that continues to emanate from Canada is that Toronto remains intent on pursuing Gasol even after trading for Gay.

At a news conference Friday, Colangelo acknowledged that the Raptors are prepared to stray into luxury-tax territory in the "right transaction." One source close to the situation says Gasol is a guy who fits those parameters, depending on the rest of potential trade principals besides Bargnani

For weeks now I've been saying this deal makes sense for both sides, and I will continue saying it. Gasol's and Dwight Howard's low-post games clash in Los Angeles, and Howard would benefit more with a perimeter-orientated power forward, like Ryan Anderson last year in Orlando.

Bargnani's only 27 and he's got five years of youth compared to Gasol. His ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot from three would not only open up the Lakers offense, but it would also allow Howard to be the lone beast inside for the Lakers.

Gasol, on the other hand, is an aging power forward who has bad knees which could be arthritic. His trade value is probably at an all-time low right now, and this is probably the time the Raptors can pounce.

A trade package centered around Bargnani, small forwards Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza, Mickael Pietrus, Alan Anderson and possibly backup center Aaron Gray could be enough to get Gasol. To clarify, I'd be including just one of those small forwards, most likely Fields, in the offer, due to his contract.

What makes this deal a good deal for Toronto is Gasol is an expiring contract next season. If things don't work out in Toronto, Gasol's large contract would become a huge trade asset next season, or it would become cap space to re-sign Kyle Lowry and go after a backup point guard or power forward as well.

GM Bryan Colangelo has shown a penchant for acquiring players who need a change of scenery in hopes of igniting their games again. He did it with Jermaine O'Neal—who never worked out because of the glut of talent in Toronto at PF/C at the time—Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay, and now possibly he might add Pau Gasol's name into the hat.

It's really a low-risk, high-reward move for the Raptors going forward if they end up acquiring Gasol for Bargnani plus contract-fillers like Fields, Kleiza or Gray.

Gasol would add to an already-decent big man corps in the East, joining names like Anderson Varejao, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Nikola Vucevic, Brook Lopez and Andrew Bynum (when healthy).

A move to a smaller conference could help Gasol out immensely. His knees may be shot, but he can certainly still play. With the right rotation with Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas, Gasol could really thrive in Toronto.

So far this season, Gasol is averaging career-lows across the board, much like Rudy Gay was prior to the trade to Toronto.

His numbers are 13.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 1.4 BPG on 45 percent shooting, a career low. On a positive note, since returning from injury January 17th, Gasol has shot 58.3 percent from the field, averaged 15 points a game and grabbed over seven boards a contest. He may not be averaging his usual 18 points and nine boards a game, but you have to remember he's playing with Dwight Howard, who grabs a league-leading 14 boards a game, and he has a glut of talented players taking shots away from him.

With the Raptors and GM Bryan Colangelo in pursuit of the final playoff spot, it's apparent they are going all-in in hopes of their first playoff berth since 2009, when the club was sent packing by Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

The pressure is on Colangelo to produce, and I for one am happy to see something finally being done. All I have to say, though, is where was this three years ago?