The Los Angeles Lakers, despite their new look for the 2018-19 NBA season, are still missing a few pieces. While chemistry will come with time, the Lakers will need help on the defensive end if they have any hopes of making a run. Having LeBron James does help but can they really rely on JaVale McGee to hold the paint down for significant minutes? I think not. Their next move should be to take a run at Marc Gasol.
Adding Gasol will give the Lakers something they have lacked since Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, they’ve had Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but adding the younger version could place them above the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference pecking order.
Just last season, the Memphis Grizzlies had Gasol on the trade block while the team was in the middle of one of the worse stretches in the teams’ history. There was no Mike Conley and Zach Randolph was gone, which put Marc Gasol on an island of sorts. But still, despite the teams’ lack of playmakers, Gasol still led the Grizzlies in scoring (17.2 points), rebounding (8.9), blocks (1.4), and minutes per game (33.0). All this was at the tender age of 33. He still has it.
What the Grizzlies must decide is how long will they keep leaning on the aging All-Star who will be 35 by the time his contract is up in 2020?
If the Grizzlies are serious about moving forward, this is the opportunity the Los Angeles Lakers are waiting for. McGee will give the Lakers a few good spots this season, but truth be told, he’s better suited for backup duty. With a core of LeBron, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Josh Hart, and Kyle Kuzma, this new-look lineup could put fear in the hearts of teams out West.
If you’re wondering just how effective Marc Gasol is, the Grizzlies are leading the NBA in just about all defensive categories with Gasol at the forefront this season. The Lakers, however, need help across the board on the defensive front. Even with LeBron averaging 9.1 boards per game, the Lakers still rank 23rd in the NBA in defensive rating, per NBA.com. So why not do what you must in order to snag Gasol?
By the time the NBA trade deadline rolls around, the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies could easily have switched positions in the standings. How long have you known a LeBron James-led team to suffer? The Grizzlies, however, are in prayer mode. They’re hoping Mike Conley can stay healthy, as well as Gasol. That’s the Grizzlies’ only hope of potentially sneaking into the Western Conference Playoffs this year, and even with that being the case, the odds still aren’t great for them.
Should The Los Angeles Lakers Go After Marc Gasol?
It’s safe to say that the Lakers will be the talk of the NBA by the time the trade deadline heats up. If the team is within the top three in Western Conference Playoff seeding, a minimum adjustment will be made. But if Head of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, sees that his team is floating around the bottom eight in the conference, then it will get interesting.
The Lakers have the young talent teams are interested in. There’s Hart, Ingram, and Kuzma. Maybe a vet like Rondo, Stephenson or McGee could entice another team to make a move. Either way, something will need to be done.
So far this season, the Lakers have had no trouble scoring the ball. It’s stopping the opposition that has plagued them. If Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are willing to take a gamble, then this Gasol deal will be highway robbery. What’s interesting is that Gasol has a player option for the 2019-20 season that can possibly cost the Lakers an additional $25.5 million. That amount alone may push the Grizzlies to move the veteran.
The Los Angeles Lakers have a good mixture of youth and veterans, but it’s clear with LeBron in his 30’s, the team is in win-now mode. Adding Marc Gasol could speed up that process.