With the trade deadline roughly three weeks away, playoff contenders—and lottery-bound teams are looking for deals that will make them better either this season or in the long run.
One of the playoff-contending teams is the Phoenix Suns, which is reportedly interested in Pau Gasol, according to a report from reputable ESPN writer Marc Stein.
Gasol’s team, the Los Angeles Lakers, are one of the NBA teams that are well on their way to “lotto hell” (or heaven), no thanks to an injury-riddled season mainly to superstar leader Kobe Bryant, who has missed majority of the regular season.
The Suns trade chip is the contract of center Emeka Okafor, who is owed $14.5 million through 2013-2014, the final year of his deal. If the Lakers deal for the big man would mean L.A. can avoid the luxury tax threshold with another smaller salary-cut exchange before the trade deadline on Feb 20.
The Suns are below the salary cap, so a straight-up exchange between Okafor and Gasol works for both squads as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) rules.
Phoenix can even add a future draft pick to entice the Lakers, which carries a 16-31 win-loss record or tied for 2nd worst in the Western Conference or 6th worst in the entire NBA.
Probable exchange via ESPN Trade Machine:
Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Lakers Trade:
Emeka Okafor ($14.4M) + 2014 First Round Pick (from Indiana) for Pau Gasol ($19.2M)
Picks and savings will be the motivation for the Lakers but more pressing reasoning for the Suns: They want to make some serious noise in the playoffs, and acquiring the four-time NBA All-Star in Gasol will give them a legitimate threat down low especially needed against the loaded and deep Western Conference.
The 33-year-old Spanish center is averaging 17.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 44 games for the Lakers this season.
The Suns are 29-18 so far, surprising both the critics and their opponents in this regular season. The record is good for sixth place in the tough West and just five games back off a homecourt advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.