It is an open secret that the Houston Rockets have been desperate for star power ever since the failed Yao Ming-Tracy McGrady experiment. So desperate they attempted to acquire Pau Gasol last offseason in a trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. Everyone knows how that turned out.
The Rockets were left without the franchise player they were looking for, while the Lakers remained feeble at point guard and the Los Angeles Clippers suddenly became relevant after Paul was sent there.
But with all the success the Clips had this season, also interesting was the frustration from the Lakers after being stuck with Gasol at the start of the season, knowing good and damn well they didn't really want him.
Hopefully the Rockets have been paying attention and less than a year later they realize Gasol isn't close to being their franchise player. Lakers leftovers is what he is.
Gasol had averaged around 20 points and nine rebounds a game from 2005-07. That's the Pau Gasol the Lakers traded for, which, by the way, will forever go down as one of the biggest steals in NBA trade history. The results were two championships in three finals appearances with Gasol on the Lakers' roster.
In the last couple of years, though, the Lakers have won only one game in two Western Conference Semifinals appearances and needed seven games against the Denver Nuggets in these playoffs to make it happen.
To make matters worse, Gasol is averaging career lows in points and field goal percentage. In the playoffs, he went from averaging 18.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in his first three seasons with the Lakers, to 12.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in his past two.
Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register reported when the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder ended that even with the Lakers being outscored by 17 points with Andrew Bynum in the game, 34 points with Kobe Bryant in, and 35 points with Metta World Peace playing, those numbers hardly compared to the Lakers being -53 with Gasol in the game.
So, why would Houston want to invest upwards of $19 million a year (so maybe more than $38 million in two years) for a borderline second option?
The Bleacher Report recently made a case for the trade:
The Rockets are on the brink of becoming a playoff team, but have been decimated by injuries the past few seasons and lack a true star to carry them to the playoffs. Gasol would provide them with that star.
Houston has a talented backcourt with Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, and also has Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee coming off the bench. They acquired defensive-minded centers in Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Camby to anchor their interior defense, but neither provide the offensive abilities that Gasol does.
A potential deal that could bring him to Houston would involve the Rockets sending Luis Scola, Courtney Lee and a first-round pick to the Lakers in exchange for Gasol.
This trade helps the Rockets by giving them the low-post scorer they have lacked since Yao Ming retired and provides them with a battle-tested big man with championship experience to lead their young players.
A core of Lowry, Martin and Gasol would make them perennial playoff contenders and they might even win a playoff series.
While this team would not win a championship, they would consistently be in the playoffs, which is their goal for right now.
All I read there was a bunch of filler text. While it may be true that having Gasol gives the Rockets more points in the post than they've had since Yao, they still lose a level of toughness, a bit of edge, and a lot of what's allowed them to be respectable as a scrappy team these last couple of seasons, despite not having a star player.
Think about this. What sense does it make to pay Gasol double what Scola was paid, for just two more points and two more rebounds a game?
To be fair, Gasol's numbers would likely go up without Bryant taking all the shots. But would Pau Gasol's leadership and toughness have been able to save the Rockets from their epic late-season collapse down the stretch? Does a team that blows it at the end of the season like that, really need Gasol to be their go-to guy?
Gasol would be an upgrade at power forward or center, but he isn't much of a game or situation changer at this point in his career.
Remember, Gasol had a tough time dealing with the initial trade that sent him to Houston. It's not worth finding out how he responds after failing to prevent the trade from happening again.
If the Rockets want a star, they should go get one. Not Pau Gasol.
Read more about the Rockets at The Dream Shake blog and SB Nation Houston.