With the “disappointing” — and by disappointing, I mean completely predictable — end to the Lakers season, there’s a question: Do the Lakers need to break up Pau and Kobe? Such a thought brings up memories of the original Shaq and Kobe split. While this blog may have a slightly negative Kobe tone, we did side with Kobe in 2004. If you dust off your copy of Wages of Wins, you can reminded of the following facts:
- Kobe and Shaq were both very good players
- Their last season together Kobe was close to overtaking Shaq’s production
- Much of this had to do with the fact the Shaq had gotten old
- Additionally Shaq had a market value of near $20 million a season
Now, here’s the interesting part about Shaq’s last season on the Lakers, he was 31 years old! This is now true of Pau Gasol! Let’s take a quick examination of Pau’s career, using the numbers from the NBA Geek:
Pau put up some of his best seasons when the Lakers made their trips to the finals. He in fact hit his top season two seasons ago. It’s possible playing with Kobe helped this. Another theory from Stumbling on Wins is that playing under the Zen-Master Phil Jackson was a key component. That said, Pau will be 32 next season, the age when most players start to fall apart. He has two seasons left on his contract worth almost $40 million. Worse still, he showed the starting signs of decline this season.
Now simply dumping Pau’s contract is not advisable. He’s still a good big and there is value there. However, if a good trade comes along for him, they should definitely take it. The second part of this though is if this is Pau vs. Kobe. It’s not. Kobe’s contract is even worse and every single thing that applies to Pau is even worse for Kobe. Kobe may still have trade value but his contract means the Lakers would need to take nearly $30 million in contracts back. It is unlikely any team with $30 million in good contracts wants to spend them on Kobe. The suggestion here is one Patrick Minton has had for a while: Amnesty Kobe! Some team will pick up some of the salary, and it will free up tons of cap space and also save some on the cap hit the Lakers currently incur.
Here is my advice for the Lakers
- Trade Pau if there is a decent option
- Amnesty Kobe
- Pick up Bynum’s option
- Don’t make any other dumb signings like Steve Blake, Metta World Peace or Derek Fisher
This could leave the Lakers in a decent spot going forward. Of course, doing this would mean admitting that when it comes to Pau vs. Kobe the real answer is neither!