Every die-hard Rockets fan remembers when Houston made the deal to land superstar big man Pau Gasol from the Lakers in a three team deal that sent Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragic to the New Orleans Hornets along with Lamar Odom from Los Angeles in exchange for superstar point guard Chris Paul. Some Rockets fans loved it and some hated it. But not long after the trade was announced Commissioner David Stern stepped in and blocked the trade from happening. Every player had to awkwardly go back to their original teams and try to pretend nothing happend. To this day no one exactly knows why David Stern nixed the deal. It eventually hurt all three of the teams involved. The Lakers lost in five games to the Oklahoma City Thunder where Russell Westbrook torched Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake throughout the entire series. The Rockets were once again mediocre and a star player away from a playoff berth. And the Hornets needed all the help they could get. In my opinion if the trade didn’t get blocked Gasol would have lead the Rockets to atleast the 8th seed. Since the Lakers got bumped from the playoffs there has been rumors that they will part ways with Gasol sometime in the offseason. This could be the best chance for the Rockets to land the big man they so desperately need.
Gasol is still the most skilled big man in the NBA. His post moves are unmatched, You won’t find a better big man passer and he is also an above average defender. He is labeled soft, which i do agree with to an extent, but i think it’s mostly because he’s a finesse player. He doesn’t dunk with a lot of force or bulldoze people to get to his spot like fans love to see. He uses his skills to get to his spot and create either by passing it back out or using one of his many post moves in his arsenal. He can aslo be the anchor on defense with his shot blocking abilities in the paint. Although this season was overall his worst as a professional, I think most of it had to do with the emergence of Andrew Bynum. The Lakers and coach Mike Brown made it their mission to make Bynum a perennial All-Star. And no one suffered more than Gasol who became the third option on offense. With Bynum getting the bulk of the touches down low, he clogged up the paint, pushing Gasol out of his comfort zone and into no man’s land inside the three-point line. Gasol’s career averages are 19 points on 52% shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.7 blocks in 36 minutes a game. You can make a case for him to one day be on the hall of fame ballot with numbers like that. This year was a different story. He had his worst year of his career shooting. He averaged 17.4 points on 50% shooting, 10.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 blocks in 37 minutes a game. Although it was his worst season of his career shooting, it was one of his best years rebounding and assisting.
If healthy, I think he still has 3-4 All-Star caliber years in him. He is definitely a better option on both sides of the floor than Luis Scola, who Gasol torches everytime they go head-to-head. The most important thing he brings to the table is that he is a two time NBA Finals Champion. The Rockets are a very young team, and with his veteran presence and championship experience, he could change the enitre culture around the Houston Rockets. He would aslo strengthen a very weak frontcourt. I don’t think you can win a championship with him as your main star, but i think you can atleast make the playoffs which seems to be the only thing Owner Les Alexander cares about. Another thing that Gasol could bring to the table is star power. These days Stars want to team up with other star players. The Rockets could potentially go after guys like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Eric Gordon or Roy Hibbert and make a run at a Western Conference Finals appearance or possibly the NBA Finals.
It’s safe to say that the Rockets are obsessed with Gasol. In my opinion he is the Rockets best option this offseason. If you can’t sign a free agent star, trade for them. The Lakers are also desperate. They’re obviously not getting any better, and with Kobe Bryant inching closer to the end of his career, it is almost guaranteed there will be multiple changes in L.A. The Lakers asking price will have to be lowered with Gasol’s down year. If they want to get the most out of Gasol i think the Rockets are their best option as well. Houston would be more willing to give up more for Pau than any other team. If i had to bet on it i think this deal gets done before the start of next season. Like it or not Rockets fans, Pau Gasol is on his way.