General manager Mitch Kupchak rebuffed Minnesota and Toronto, according to cbssports.com, because he wants to see the Lakers at full strength over a period of time to determine their potential. Gasol missed Wednesday’s victory at New Orleans while resting sore knees.
Reportedly, the Lakers were offered a package that would include perimeter shooting big man Andrea Bargnani, point guard Jose Calderon and veteran Linas Kleiza. Meanwhile, Timberwolves general manager David Kahn has been aggressively pursuing Gasol to pair him with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio and all-star forward Kevin Love.rick
Kahn would be willing to part with last year’s No. 2 overall pick, forward Derrick Williams of Arizona and center Nikola Pekovic.
CBSSports.com reported Wednesday that there’s a growing belief among rival executives that Toronto has emerged as the most likely landing spot for Gasol, given Bargnani’s potential as a floor-spacing frontcourt partner to Dwight Howard and the boost Calderon could give a thin backcourt. Steve Nash, 38, has only played a game and a half this season because of a fractured fibula, and his projected backup, Steve Black, will miss the next six to eight weeks after abdominal surgery.
Gasol has underperformed so far in coach Mike D’Antoni’s up tempo system that minimizes low-post play. Kobe Bryant said this week that Gasol has to put on his “big boy pants” and adjust.
Bargnani is only 27 and is a deadly long-range shooting that would help space the floor for Howard in the low post, Bryant one-on-one or pick-and-rolls with Nash, when he is healthy.
The Atlanta Hawks have also been frequently mentioned as potential trade partners in a Gasol deal, most notably by Lakers legend Magic Johnson on an early season episode of “NBA Countdown.” But ESPN.com reported earlier this month that the Hawks, on schedule to have major salary-cap space in July 2013, currently have no interest in parting with free agent-to-be Josh Smith.
This much is certain: Until Gasol emerges as a force, rumors about his exit will abound.