Los Angeles Lakers Pick up Pau Gasol, Unload Kwame Brown
The first rule of journalism is "Never sleep." I broke this rule good and proper today with my fifteen-hour, ‘flu-induced nap, and when I awoke to the sight of beady-eyed, bearded fellow glaring at me, I assumed I’d left the door unlocked and was in the process of being robbed.
It turns out, however, that what I’d actually left open were my laptop and my browser, and the suspect fluff-chin giving me the gas face was former Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol. For anyone else yet to read the details due to illness, sleep or a normal social life (I hear Friday is the night the kids hit the discothèque), here’s how the deal went down:
Los Angeles Lakers receive: Pau Gasol, 2010 second-round draft pick
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol, 2008 first-round pick, 2010 first-round pick
For those of you currently sporting a "What the fudge?" face, you should know that L.A. signed Aaron McKie today, and Marc Gasol is, indeed, Pau’s little brother. McKie, who was working as an assistant coach in Philly, resigned for the easiest $750,000 he’ll ever make, a move which allowed Mitch Kupchak to balance the salaries.
So, as always, the question now is "Who wins?" Well, if we’re talking in terms of talent, it’s clear that the Lakeshow is making off like a bully with the chess club’s lunch money. Pau, the proven pivot, has been pimping the post since day one, and last season’s nightly twenty-ten outings established his position among the league’s top-tier big men. Kwame, meanwhile, leads the league in missed dunks, non sequitur turnovers and wasted talent, and it’s likely that he’ll be taking whatever potential he supposedly has into his retirement.
While the Notorious G.M.1 isn’t exactly Jerry West, he’s no Elgin Baylor either, so this trade wasn’t the robbery it initially looks to be. While L.A. get away with the player they wanted, Memphis is comfortable in the knowledge that it only has Brown’s contract on the books until the end of the season, which, coupled with the loss of the burden of the fifty million remaining on Gasol’s deal, gives them wiggle room to lure a big name or two to Tennessee this summer. Throw in a pair of picks and Crittenton, an inexpensive, twenty-year-old, 6’5” point guard who has shown flashes of capability in his young career, and it seems as if Memphis’ mediocrity is likely to pass in the future.
Unfortunately, they’re going to have to endure thirty-something games with MF DOOM2 in place of their go-to guy before things will start to improve. Given that they were on pace for only twenty-three wins before they downgraded, that means that a period of unpleasantness is ahead for Grizz fans, even if they do have the light of financial leverage at the end of the tunnel.
So, who do you think got the best out of this deal? Is Pau Gasol worth the investment the Lakers have made in him? Is Kwame set to break out of his career-long slump in his new environment? Is L.A. a threat to the big boys with their new roster? Let us know what you think in the comment box at the bottom of your page.
It’s been pointed out in the past that some of my references are a little obscure, so for your benefit I’ll be explaining the more esoteric allusions from now on. If you ever miss something, check the footnotes, then act like you knew already.
1 Memphis’ General Manager is Chris Wallace, which was also the government name of the late rapper Biggie Smalls, also known as the Notorious B.I.G. Consequently, I’ve taken to referring to the Wallace as the "Notorious G.M.".
2 The "MF" in the name of rapper MF DOOM (all caps, please) stands for, among other things, "Metal Fingers". While this refers to the gauntlet worn by the Marvel character Dr. Doom, I applied the nickname to Kwame for his hard hands after a friend remarked that he played as if he were wearing iron gloves.