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A Reasoned Argument for Pau Gasol

The following is a reasoned argument stating why Pau Gasol would be a wonderful fit for the Timberwolves. I have listed four oft-heard objections to the idea of trading for Pau Gasol, and stated my counter-point to each of them.

1) His contract is too large.

Yes, $38+ million is a scary number. But it’s over two years. Not a four-year Kahntract for a middling player. But two years of a fantastic player. Here is why this is ideal: As far as we know, Kevin Love will be on the team for another three, maybe four years. Ricky Rubio will certainly be here for another 3 years. While its true that the Wolves should be mindful of hamstringing the cap for future years, this is a two year deal. Not to mention….what else are would the Wolves do with their cap space? Find a better player than Pau? As Chris Webber would say, ‘Good Luck’.

2) He’s old, and in the declining phase of his career.

Pau Gasol turns 32 years old next week. His WS/48 was .165. Yes, it was significantly down from the previous season (his .232 WS/48 from ‘10/’11 was a career high). However, his career WS/48 mark is .178. His rebounding rate was constant from the previous year, and his assist rate actually improved. Take a look at his player page on Basketball Reference. He is really, really good. And the whole worst-season-ever thing? Did anyone actually watch the Lakers last year? Mike Brown does not run an offense. Phil Jackson’s system, or for that matter, Rick Adelman’s system, is much, much more conducive to a passing big man of Gasol’s stature. Mike Brown’s “offense” consists of making Kobe happy and giving Bynum enough touches so he doesn’t assault anyone and/or take off his jersey on the court.

One more thing that falls under this objection: durability. He played all 82 games in ‘10/’11, which was the fifth time in eleven seasons that he played 80+ games. He also played in 65-of-66 games last year in a lockout shortened season. He has never had major injury concerns.

3) Don’t trade Derrick Williams!

Yeah, it would be nice if the Wolves hadn’t taken arguably the most talented and coveted player in last years’ draft and played him sparingly, behind the best power forward in the NBA. It would be great if they had immediately traded him, either before or after the pick was made. But they didn’t. And by the way, he still plays power forward. Behind the best power forward in the league. He cannot play small forward. Now, or ever. The longer he remains on the roster, the faster his value drops. Trade him now while an All-Star-caliber player can still be had in return.

4) He plays the same position(s) as two of our currently best three players.

This is easily the most legitimate argument. Again, a Martell Webster/Andre Iguodala trade would have been ridiculously amazing. Nic Batum would fit the roster perfectly. Luol Deng or Jared Dudley would be fantastic. We don’t know how realistic any of these options are on the trade market, but we do know this: Pau Gasol is as good or better than all of the above players. He is also better than Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, or any other number of wings/combo guards that have been/are/will be available. This is where I give a shoutout to SnP’s formula from early last season, albeit not word-for-word:

Rubio + Love + 2 very good players = Competent Ball.

With Gasol, the Wolves would, believe it or not, overshoot that modest goal. Love and Gasol are legitimately superstars. Rubio and Pekovic are very, very good players that may someday soon be superstars as well. Not many teams can say that. The minute split might be tricky, but as has been pointed out by others on this site, it is not a good thing that Love played 39 minutes per game last season. Drop that to 35-36. Give Gasol and Pekovic each somewhere around 30 minutes per game. Massive 7-footers can’t consistently play 35+ MPG. They break down. A three man rotation of Love (34-36 mpg), Gasol (30-32 mpg), and Pekovic (30-32 mpg) is ridiculous. In addition, the defensive, rim-protecting element that Gasol brings cannot be overstated.

All things considered, I would prefer Andre Iguodola or Luol Deng to be the Singular Move. Alas, Pau Gasol is not only more gettable, but he’s also Spanish. David Kahn has noticed as much. Gasol has to be next on the list of potential, realistic targets. Positional concerns should not stop the Wolves from becoming a legitimate contender over the next two years and into the future with a core of Love, Rubio, and Pekovic. Great players are great players. Get it done.

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