Somewhere in the back of most of our minds, we thought the Los Angeles Lakers were going to make a trade. Even after general manager Mitch Kupchak said otherwise, there was a part of us that believed Hollywood’s finest were going to do something. Anything.
Now, however, it’s become abundantly clear the Lakers are going to do nothing.
Per Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Pau Gasol is set to miss at least six weeks after partially tearing his plantar fascia.
Pau Gasol has a partial tear of his plantar fascia and is expected to be out at least six weeks, league source tells @cbssports.
— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 6, 2013
In case you’re wondering if that’s of any importance, the answer is yes, it is.
Gasol and Dwight Howard have been the two Lakers immersed in trade rumors the most, and while the team has maintained they aren’t moving either of them, the possibility of a blockbuster, specifically involving Gasol, was still there. But now, it’s not, nor is there the potential for Los Angeles to pull the trigger on any sort of blockbuster.
I’ll never say never when it comes to the Lakers, yet Gasol’s injury changes everything leading into the trade deadline.
With Pau himself so unhappy coming off the bench, dealing him now made some sense. If the Lakers wouldn’t have had to take back any bad contracts and would have found a stretch forward (or two) that suited their needs more so than Gasol, it’s not inconceivable to imagine Kupchak going back on his words. With him now riding the sidelines, however, Kupchak won’t have to go back on anything. No team is going to give up anything of value for a 32-year-old big man who won’t be able to play until almost April.
What Gasol’s injury also does is essentially eliminate any existing potential (there was none to begin with) for the Lakers to deal Howard as well. To be clear, Los Angeles wasn’t going to trade what it hopes is the face of the future to begin with, but fear of being spurned can make a team do some pretty crazy things. That much I will admit.
Down Pau, the Lakers are no longer afforded the luxury of trepidation, though. Not only is Howard injured and unlikely to fetch what the team interprets his market value to be, but he’s now even more irreplaceable than before. The timetable behind his return is uncertain, but he seems closer than Gasol. As jumpshot-happy as Mike D’Antoni’s offense is, he still needs a big men to compress defenses and open up the lane for Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and create open looks on the perimeter for the squad’s shooters.
Short of dealing Steve Nash or Kobe (they won’t), the Lakers no longer have the assets or even the necessary reasoning to pursue a big name before the trade deadline.
The Lakers team we see is the one that we’re going to get for the rest of the season.
Whether or not that’s a bad thing remains to be seen.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.