Sunday, January 21, 2007

Is Vecsey Right...For Once?

Once again, New York Post writer Peter Vecsey has weighed in on the Grizzlies - the only person writing more on the Griz in a paper is my radio partner Ron Tillery. Most of the time, I tend to dismiss Vecsey's writing pretty quickly. However, today's piece has an air of truth about it:

"Sources throughout the NBA disclose the 7-foot Gasol, an elite post-up performer, as tough a cover as there is within 15 feet of the rim, suddenly is eminently obtainable. Distressed at management's rebuilding-with-adolescence mood, the 27 1/2-year-old has asked to be traded to a playoff-positioned ensemble that, of course, would be instantly transformed into a legit title contender.

The offended Grizzlies aim to oblige.

I put this out there with utter certainty. Infallible informers report Grizzlies president Jerry West has explored prospective trade arrangements with at least three teams regarding Gasol. In order to protect my sources, the only one I'm willing to identify for the time being is the Bulls."

No more weird Pau faces in Memphis?

Is this true? Though he's been wrong several times before, Vecsey's pretty sure of himself on this one. I'm inclined to think that something along these lines has gone on - Pau's clearly not happy at all with the direction of the team, and while he and his family have grown to like Memphis, I'd imagine he wouldn't be upset with a move to a more Spanish-speaking, bigger town (like Chicago, for example).

Along those same lines, management isn't thrilled at all with Pau's effort level since coming back. Defensively, he's worse than before because he's just not trying. Offensively, he's shooting well enough, but he's not aggressive in making moves to the basket, and he's relying more on cutesy-poo lay-ins and longish jumpers than normal. Jerry West and Tony Barone have asked Pau to play with fire and passion for Memphis, not just for Spain. It hasn't worked. He's not leading the team, he's not doing the little things (or the big things) you need an All-Star to do for your team when they're struggling, he's just lifeless -- and it's contagious.

Pau rushed back from rehab to find a total disaster where a good team once stood. He's made it clear -- in Spain, at least -- that he wants to win a championship soon, and he has to be able to see that a championship in Memphis isn't happening in the next 3-4 years. It stands to reason he might want out.

So, let's say there is truth to this inflammatory report. What would the Grizzlies get in return? Vecsey speculates:

The Bulls also own what Memphis wants, namely Luol Deng ($2.6 million) and Ben Gordon ($3.86M). In order to satisfy salary/transaction specs, Chicago would have to include P.J. Brown ($8.56M). I'm told the Grizzlies are prepared to add Hakim Warrick ($1.2M) to a pot that so far does not include draft picks; Gasol currently is on the books for $12.8M and is owed $63M over the next four seasons.

So, Gasol for Deng/Gordon/P.J. Brown? The Bulls are very high on Luol Deng and especially Ben Gordon - Gordon is a fantastic scorer and a game-changer. He tore up the Grizzlies last Saturday as a starter, but he's normally a 6th-man who can energize a team. Deng is a great defender who's still got work to do offensively. If I trade Gasol, I'd want the Knicks 1st round draft pick for next year that Chicago has the rights to. Brown/Gordon/2007 Knicks 1st for Gasol would have to be tempting for Jerry West. You get what will likely be a lottery pick in a very deep draft, you get Brown's 8+ million off the cap at season's end, and you get a scoring machine in Gordon. I'd rather have that pick than Luol Deng.

I've long said that there aren't many guys in the league I'd trade Pau for, and that is still true. The deal above is not one I'm overly fond of, but it's not bad if you are resigned to trading Pau. I'd love to get Chris Bosh from Toronto for Pau (as I tell Ron over and over again), or a similar young superstar. Maybe that's possible. But if an unmotivated and passionless Pau continues to sleepwalk his way through this season, his value is only going to drop.

Any ideas on trading Pau that actually work? Use ESPN's trade machine (I've helpfully added a link to on the right) and find trades that would work. Email them to me or leave them in the comments.

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