NBA @ 2: Pau Gasol For Carlos Boozer Trade?
When the three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers fell through there were plenty of hard feelings on the LA side of the equation. Lamar Odom was so upset that he requested – and received – a trade. Pau Gasol was equally upset, but was more grateful the deal fell through than anything else. Still, rumors of Gasol being dealt have been persistent, whether it was the Kevin Love deal the Lakers reportedly tried to consummate last summer or the Chris Paul deal. That is no doubt why there is not a Spanish-language outlet reporting that the Lakers are talking to the Chicago Bulls about a Carlos Boozer/Gasol swap.
The rumored deal would also involve Kyle Korver heading to LA along with Boozer.
We asked a couple of HOOPSWORLD’s experts to sound off on this proposed trade, starting with Joel Brigham in Chicago:
I’m not buying this. For one, the source material isn’t necessarily a publication known for breaking this sort of news, and it doesn’t really make enough sense for the Lakers in order to pull the trigger.
Carlos Boozer is an obvious downgrade at the power forward position for L.A., and while the overall salary numbers aren’t too crazy, Boozer does that have extra year, which would stick them with a very old player hanging around perhaps after Kobe is no longer even playing. I could see the Lakers moving Pau for talented youth, but Boozer isn’t that. As for including Kyle Korver in the deal, why would they need Kyle Korver when they have a nearly identical player already in Jason Kapono? This just doesn’t add up to me.
Would Gasol be great in a Bulls uniform right now? Sure, and he would definitely help their title aspirations, too. But I can’t see this from the Lakers’ angle, and I’m the notorious Bulls homer. Don’t count on this one happening.
Lang Greene covers the NBA from Atlanta, and had a different take on Boozer vs. Gasol:
The rumored Pau Gasol for Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver swap would be a steal for the Los Angeles Lakers. Outside of Boozer’s potential for suffering an injury, given his history, the Lakers would receive the more complete player from both a mental and a physical standpoint.
Historically, Gasol will have a legacy that shines brighter than Boozer’s simply because of the championships won playing alongside Kobe Bryant and the popularity that goes along with playing in Los Angeles. But if you rewind to when both players were on their previous teams, with Gasol in Memphis and Boozer in Utah, ask yourself who was considered the better player.
Gasol has gone on to become the bigger name, but when you strip the hype of out of it, Boozer has the bigger game.
Last point, over the past few years plenty of stories have emerged out of Los Angeles regarding Gasol’s toughness, or lack thereof, during pivotal moments. Mentally-tough savants such as Bryant and the recently-retired Phil Jackson were openly critical and pushed Gasol. While Derrick Rose is one of the best players in the game today, openly criticizing and pushing teammates isn’t a part of his humble nature. And in the Eastern Conference, where plenty of teams have toughness inside, it’s not clear how Gasol takes the Bulls to the next level.
Boozer looks to be the right man for the job.
As a final point, it seems highly unlikely that the Bulls pull off such a roster-changing move in the final days before the start of the 2011-12 NBA season. We’re talking about a team that is so concerned about messing up the great chemistry and balance that currently exists in their locker room that they were loathe to get involved in trade talks for Dwight Howard. Pau is hardly the impact player that Dwight would be. Carlos Boozer believes he has a lot to prove after last season, which he certainly does. That attitude could be the tipping point in any discussion about whether he or Gasol is the better power forward for the Chicago Bulls.
What do you think? If the Bulls could get Pau, should they do it, or should they stand by their man in Boozer? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below!
The Kevin Love Extension
Many of the decisions made by the typical NBA executive are somewhat risky. Once in a while, however, they are presented with a no-brainer, something that absolutely everyone agrees is the right thing to do, and that’s exactly the situation Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn finds himself in.
The big story today – in light of there being very little substantive trade talk – is that the Timberwolves have yet to extend the contract of power forward Kevin Love, who is eligible for an extension until January 25th.
Love has shown marked improvement over his three NBA seasons, and really came into his own last year, when he became Minnesota’s full time starter at power forward. He averaged 20.2 points and 15.5 rebounds per game while shooting 47% from the field and 85% from the free throw line. Granted, he was a great player on a miserably bad team, but Love’s numbers were impressive no matter what the circumstance. He’s been even better in preseason after dropping some weight and adding some muscle in the offseason. In his team’s two games – both wins – he averaged 21.5 points and 15.5 rebounds while connecting on 61% from the field.
Over the summer there were trade talks circulating around the internet, rumors that would have sent Love to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol. The Timberwolves ultimately shot down that idea, and for good reason. Love is clearly going to be one of the league’s top power forwards for years to come. He was also part of the reason new head coach Rick Adelman decided to take the job.
“When I talked to them about this job, the understanding was we’ll all sit down and we’re all going to talk about where we go with it,” Adelman said. “He’s a key part of this team. Obviously, he’s come into camp in very, very good shape. That decision really comes down to (owner) Glen (Taylor). He’s the one who has to pay the salary and make that kind of commitment.
“But certainly we’ll give our input on where we think we are with him. I don’t know the economics of it all. I probably won’t get involved in that, but I will give my opinion on where I think he stands with the team now and in the future.”
As good as Love is, the economics of the NBA are changing, and it may not make sense for the Timberwolves to do the extension right now. If they wait until next summer they can allow the market to set Love’s value and then match any offer he might receive.
One way or the other, get used to seeing Kevin Love in a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey. Whether he signs an extension over the next month or gets his long-term deal next summer, he is franchise cornerstone for a team that could be on the verge of a long-awaited resurgence.
Winning Without A Superstar?
Last season the Denver Nuggets were the big story in the NBA. They started as the big story because they were faced with the tough decision to trade Carmelo Anthony, and then continued to be the big story because they were actually better without him. Now head coach George Karl is as excited as ever, and believes the team he has in place will be even more competitive, and still without a legit superstar (or the oft-accompanying ego) at its core.
“I think, I hope, as I am preaching to the team, that the Denver Nuggets are going to be out being a team,” Karl said in an interview with KKFN in Denver. “It has nothing to do about individuality and basically screw all the guys out there that think you gotta have a superstar to win a championship. I’m just not into the hype. I’m into some of the things we did when we went 18-7 and I can take anyone who wants to come into our film [room]. We can splice up the Oklahoma City game and for you and don’t put a scoreboard on it and you can tell me who won that series? It would be very difficult to chose if you take free throw misses out of the game and basically take the first 15 minutes of the Game Two out of the game. Everybody is in love with Oklahoma City. No one is in love with the Denver Nuggets. I guarantee you if you don’t put a scoreboard on the video you wouldn’t be able to pick who won the game. I’m excited because Oklahoma City is the darlings of the NBA and we are not that far from them. I think Josh [Kroenke] and the organization has unity that the Nuggets haven’t had for four or five years. I think unity is felt by the players for the first time in two or three years. I think having Andre Miller back even magnifies it into an even better place with having Andre [Miller] and Ty [Lawson] back together on the basketball court for these last 6 practices has been an incredible experience for me. I have been in a lot of practices and I have never seen two point guards go at each other like they have gone at each other for 6 days. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of.
You want to talk about Gallo [Danilo Gallinari]? We’re excited about that. Timofey Mozgov is going to be a legit 25 minute center in the NBA hopefully this year, but he will be there. I think he will get there this year. It may take him a year or two, but he definitely will be a big-time NBA center. Nene likes that. I think I also like him being a big. I also like playing fast and quick. We’ll see how we do. The only thing right now that doesn’t make me happy I think the trade to get Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer – three years ago when Corey Brewer was playing in Minnesota or two years ago maybe when he was playing in Minnesota we thought Corey Brewer was the fasting player running the court in the NBA and that’s why we picked him up. Rudy Fernandez we think can be a J.R. [Smith], but maybe more sanity. Okay right now the only thing I’m really thinking we are not able to replace is Wilson [Chandler], which there is a chance I think we can get him back when their season ends and a little bit of Kenyon Martin is grit and toughness. There’s no question Kenyon and Nene in the 4th quarter was a great luxury for us to have. We’re probably going to have to do that with some team concepts and some reads and some circumstances that were probably different from last year. I’m excited man. I can keep the list going if you want.”
More than having star players, Karl believes that having an established culture that the players buy into is the way to win basketball games.
“Well, I think the big thing is the right way…you can preach it, you can coach it, you can demand it and a lot of coaches get fired because you don’t get it done, but having the player committed to that in the culture and the organization being committed and being around it is and I am not saying the last 5 or 6 years it’s been in a negative place. I just don’t think we are in as good of a place that we are now.”
Re-signing Nene was huge for the Nuggets, but Karl is actually more excited about having Arron Afflalo back in the mix.
“My heart is to have Arron Afflalo on my team. I was amazed over the last two years to see how much Arron Afflalo has meant to this team, how he’s grown, and he’s becoming of a leader of this team. As much as I think Nene is our most talented and skilled player/big man and just the skills he can bring on an NBA court – Arron has become somewhat of a leader on the court. People forget we missed Arron last year in the last 14 games or 12 games with his hamstring and never really getting to be healthy in the playoffs. I think it’s important. I definitely think it’s important. If you bring him into our mesh you kind of slot everybody else into this team and I think you feel comfortable to the challenge of being a very competitive NBA basketball team.”
People may not be in love with the Denver Nuggets, but it’s going to be hard not to appreciate them this season, at the very least. George Karl may not have a current superstar, but he has established a winning culture, and that can only mean good things for the Nuggets going forward.
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