San Antonio Spurs: Is Pau Gasol a Trade Chip This Offseason?

By Rob Wolkenbrod
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) attempts a shot against the Los Angeles Clippers during the third quarter at Staples Center. The San Antonio Spurs won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) attempts a shot against the Los Angeles Clippers during the third quarter at Staples Center. The San Antonio Spurs won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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If Pau Gasol opts in for the 2017-18 season, the San Antonio Spurs may have an interesting trade chip on its hands.

When the San Antonio Spurs signed Pau Gasol, he looked like a quality signing. The numbers he put up for the 2016-17 season weren’t bad, at 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. However, it came at a $15 million price tag, along with being the some of the lowest numbers of Gasol’s career (the points average was a career-low).

Entering the 2017 offseason, Gasol has the choice of becoming a free agent or exercising his player option for 2017-18 worth $16 million. If he chooses to take that money and fulfill the deal, then the Spurs may have an intriguing trade chip for this offseason.

The best-case scenario for moving Gasol, is if San Antonio can use him to acquire a bigger name. He would take up a sizeable chunk of whatever superstar player is targeted, along with draft picks and younger pieces added to the potential deal.

The Spaniard is just one piece of the pie, though, as the Spurs aren’t exactly loaded with assets. They have this year’s first-round pick and don’t have one that was previously dealt to an organization. Dejounte Murray and Kyle Anderson are the other younger pieces that can be moved, but outside of them, there’s not much else to work with.

The question is, how far can Gasol’s expiring contract lead a trade or be one of the headlining pieces? It’s difficult to decipher, especially with the NBA salary cap increasing. So would his deal mean a lot?

Paul George is the popular name in the NBA rumor mill. He’ll potentially be on his way out, with suitors already lining up.

Sources: Indiana's Kevin Pritchard engaging teams on trading Paul George, but so far, not Lakers. There's a rental market, but how robust? https://t.co/oM9XrATMr9

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 18, 2017

The price for a rental version of George is unknown, as he’ll be a free agent after the 2017-18 season. While the Spurs are likely longshots to get him, if they were to call the Indiana Pacers, Gasol’s expiring deal, two first-round picks, and either Anderson or Murray could be an option. That’s not to say it would work or be remotely close to getting Indiana’s acceptance, but as a way to get talks started.

Option No. 2 is a potential call to the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose front office self-destructed on Monday. General Manager David Griffin left after he and owner Dan Gilbert couldn’t agree to a future, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Sources: As David Griffin departs as Cavs — "Just couldn't agree on future," source says – Chauncey Billups expected to emerge as candidate

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 19, 2017

Would someone like Kevin Love make sense to pursue? Probably not, unless LaMarcus Aldridge agrees to play center, which he’s been known to be against for a handful of years.

If the Spurs were to show interest, a deal with Gasol’s expiring contract could be the basis of talks. It may not result in him going to Cleveland, with a third team getting involved. It would get the Cavaliers a replacement superstar in the frontcourt and Gasol going to the third party. San Antonio then has the ability to use the freed cap space in free agency.

UPDATE: A short time after this was published, Wojnarowski reported that Gasol will opt out and re-sign for lesser money.

Next: Spurs' 2017 NBA Mock Draft

So it looks like Gasol is sticking around then. Is this a good thing for the roster?

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