Per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Rubio not-so-subtly continues to hold out hope that the Los Angeles Lakers big man will wind up with the Minnesota Timberwolves:
Pau Gasol has been loosely linked to the Wolves, primarily because of Ricky Rubio. The two are close.
Rubio told reporters in Minnesota [Gasol] proved to the league he is one of the best,” Rubio told reporters in Minneapolis. “He can pass. He can shoot. He can rebound. He can do a lot of things. I think if you use him in the right way, he is a top player in this league. If they don’t want him, we are more than welcome to get him.”
The hard part is finding something that actually interests the Lakers – if the Wolves are still interested.
With the Lakers getting set to face the Timberwolves, it’s no surprise Rubio was asked about his Spanish friend. Not only have the two played together in Spain, but Minnesota has actually tried to pry Gasol away from the Lakers as recent as this past December.
Nikola Pekovic is set to explore free agency this summer and the Timberwolves are hesitant to commit any money to him, so they’d deal him in a heartbeat. The team also continues to shop second-year forward Derrick Williams, and wouldn’t hesitate to give him up as well.
But while Gasol remains unhappy in Hollywood, and though his days there seem to be numbered, striking an accord will prove complex. Gasol is owed $19 million this season and $19.3 million next, a sum the Timberwolves will readily pay. Finding a deal that both works financially and satisfies the Lakers’ demands won’t be so easy.
Knowing the financial parameters and given the Lakers have already rejected an offer put forth by the Timberwolves, we can assume it consisted of Pekovic, Williams and a J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour. Los Angeles fancies Gasol a star, so a package along those lines just isn’t going to cut it. Knowing that he posts a 25.9 PER at the center position raises his value to Minnesota, and the Lakers know it.
Short of concocting a three or four team trade that would land the Lakers a stretch forward like Josh Smith or Paul Pierce to pair with Williams in Los Angeles then, I don’t see the Timberwolves being able to put together a package worthy of bringing to the table.
That said, they have the ability to fuel such a complex agreement. Pekovic and Williams still hold plenty of value around the league, and having deemed both expendable or their departures inevitable, Minnesota has the assets to bring in a third and/or fourth team with the piece Los Angeles is looking for.
But will they?
It’s obvious the Timberwolves (and Rubio) are high on Gasol. His familiarity with Rubio is not to be discounted, and neither is his ability to thrive within the pick-and-roll in general. That he excels at center and would allow Kevin Love (when healthy) to play an inside out offensive game is just the proverbial cherry atop the metaphorical sundae.
It’s also obvious that Minnesota is willing to do what it takes to at least try and meet Los Angeles’ demands. The only problem is the Lakers haven’t issued a concrete set of them. By all accounts, they haven’t truly begun shopping Gasol. Everything is water cooler talk; it’s all conjecture.
Until the Lakers look at the ever displeased Gasol, realize it’s time to part ways and make his availability official, all the Timberwolves can do is just wait.
And all Rubio can do is continue to profess his faith in the player who is rapidly becoming an outcast in Los Angeles.
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.