NBA Trade Rumors: Pau Gasol for Andrew Bynum deal may happen Sunday

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

The Cavaliers and Lakers are still engaged in talks involving Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Around and around and around they go, when they'll stop nobody knows.

The Cavaliers and Lakers are inching closer to completing a Pau Gasol for Andrew Bynum-centered deal, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

After several days of stalled talks, the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers made progress Saturday on a trade that would involve Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, sources told ESPN.com.

The Cavaliers want to execute a trade by Sunday so it can be completed ahead of Tuesday's deadline for Bynum's contract to become fully guaranteed, sources said. Trades need 48 hours to be finalized so players can have physicals.

A lot to unpack there. First and foremost, it seems like the Cavaliers want to get this done so that they still have the option to cut Bynum if they need to. The Lakers also want to get this whole thing done because they have to be able to cut him to gain any value out of him. Second, let's keep in mind that the Cavaliers do have to send SOMETHING with Bynum to make this deal. A straight-up swap does not work monetarily. Adding any of Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters, or Tristan Thompson makes this deal work via league rules. I obviously doubt that Thompson or Bennett would be involved, and would be surprised to see Waiters be involved.

More generally, there are good and bad aspects to a Gasol trade. Let's make a Ted Mosby-style pros and cons list about what a Gasol trade could mean for the Cavs.

Pros

  • He would undoubtedly help the Cavaliers' offense. Gasol is an excellent passer, solid midrange threat, and good post option. Most importantly though, he's one of the smartest offensive basketball players in the league. The Cavs don't exactly have smart offensive basketball players.
  • The team does eventually need to "learn to win." Gasol has been a winner before, and understands what it takes. I don't particularly buy him as a mentor -- I doubt that he would be particularly interested in that role here -- but simply having a guy like him around would probably help.
  • His defense isn't particularly good anymore (he struggles in space with quickness), but he's been better protecting the rim this season than Anderson Varejao has, allowing 50.9% of field goal attempts at the rim to score. Even though he does struggle in space with quickness, his length is a tremendous asset to at least slowing down attacking guards by cutting them off a little bit. Again, his intelligence helps there.
  • Basically, this deal makes the Cavs a better team on paper in every way.

Cons

  • The idea exists that Gasol does not want to be in Cleveland. He's been known to mope a little bit if he's unhappy, and I imagine that he doesn't want to be on a team that isn't a contender. {Ed note: Yeah and he's on the Lakers right now...}
  • Is it worth actually making this team good? The top of the 2014 draft is loaded. Is potentially missing out on one of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or Joel Embiid worth making a Gasol trade?
  • Is it actually worth getting to the 8 seed just to get swept by the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers? Reaching the playoffs is remarkably important eventually, but this team is a train wreck and there's no guarantee that the Cavs will actually make the playoffs with a Gasol trade. Seriously, they've only won 33% of their games. They would be better, but I don't think it's a given that they would be that much better.
  • The Cavs could give up an actual asset in this deal beyond just an expiring contract. Chris Grant normally gets the better of trades, but he's never been in a situation where he is fighting for his job. He has some leverage here, but it's mostly a staring battle of who is going to blink first. Will the Lakers decide that getting under the tax is more important, or will Grant decide that his job is more important? That's a very real question and I don't think either way is a given. Sergey Karasev is rumored to be the guy the Lakers have looked in to if it's going to be a roster player.
I don't particularly have the answers here. There are a ton of questions still in play. In a vacuum, I'd probably just cut Bynum and bottom out. I'm not sure this roster is worth saving. But we know that's not what's going to happen. There are going to be trades made because this roster is filled with mismatched parts and Grant needs to do something here.

We'll find out tomorrow if this is the first piece of the puzzle.

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