I just can’t get excited about Pau Gasol and the idea of the Cavaliers trading for him. When I look at what would be nice to come out of this Bynum situation with, here’s my list:
A shooter: The Cavs desperately need someone who can spread defense so Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters can penetrate. Gasol has a little more range than Bynum, but you’re talking fifteen feet range instead of twelve, so the spacing problems don’t go away.
A leader: Based on his complaints about Mike D’Antoni, Gasol is almost as big a diva as Bynum. He doesn’t seem like a guy who will teach the young guys how to fight through adversity or will keep quiet if things don’t go the way he wants.
A long term part of the core: it was a long shot that we would get this from Bynum, but there is no way Gasol helps beyond this year, except for having a big chunk of cap space that we can flip at the deadline or turn into a free agent this summer. The cap space that Bynum provides combined with one of the hundred or so draft picks we have accumulated should be enough to get an asset that will help beyond this season.
Beyond that, Gasol hasn’t been healthy for the past couple of seasons and has shot 45 percent this year, which for a guy with his size and skills smells a lot like a guy on the downside of his career. He isn’t a great defender, either. While I was hoping to add some depth to the frontcourt so that we could keep Andy’s minutes down, bringing a guy like Gasol in means that Tyler Zeller and Anthony Bennett will be out of the rotation again. I know that the Cavs look at Gasol as helping them get to the playoffs, but if I have to choose between getting experience for those guys and busting my ass to get the eighth seed, I would take the experience.
The real question is whether the Cavs can do better than Gasol. That probably depends on how much they are willing to give up. The rumor making the rounds had Bynum and Alonzo Gee going for Gasol, with the Cavs possibly adding a draft pick. Gee appears to be out of the rotation, so Bynum and Gee for Gasol is a no-lose trade for the Cavs. Trading a pick is always risky. The Nets certainly didn’t think the pick they traded for Joe Johnson would end up in the lottery. A draft pick for a guy who will only play fifty games at most for the Cavs seems like a bad deal, more because of the opportunity cost than whether Gasol will help. At some point the Cavs need to bundle some assets together and acquire an elite player. Using any of those assets without enhancing the long term potential of the team is a mistake.