Monday, August 4, 2014
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NBA trade rumors: Suns interested in Lakers' Pau Gasol

The Phoenix Suns could entice the Los Angeles Lakers to part with Pau Gasol.

The Phoenix Suns have the playoffs on their minds, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has emerged as a potential trade target for a team hoping to upgrade its roster, reports ESPN's Marc Stein.

Los Angeles has been open to dealing Gasol, who has made it clear he's not happy playing under coach Mike D'Antoni. Phoenix, meanwhile, has been looking for a boost, and first-year general manager Ryan McDonough has said the 29-18 Suns are willing to part with one or more of their many draft picks that have been acquired via trade over the last two offseasons.

 

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Phoenix can use injured center Emeka Okafor's $14.5 million expiring contract to get close to a salary match to Gasol's $19.3 million owed this year.

A similar deal between the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers that also involved Gasol fell through at the end of the 2013 calendar year because Los Angeles wanted more than financial relief, but the Suns have something more to offer. They have the assets in the form of a combination of draft picks -- they could have as many as four in 2014, depending on protections -- and young players. In addition to their own 2014 draft selection, the Suns own Washington's first-round pick that is top-12 protected, Minnesota's first-round pick that's top-13 protected and Indiana's pick that is top-14 protected.

Phoenix also owns a Lakers draft pick for 2015 that is top-5 protected for that year's draft.

Such a trade would move the Lakers to within $3 million of the luxury tax threshold, which would put them in range to potentially get out of tax territory this year, according to Stein's calculations. Okafor's contract is 80 percent paid for because he missed the first 41 games of the year to recover from a neck injury.

 

The Suns have $5.6 million of luxury cap space to take on Gasol's hefty but expiring contract this year, and the trade would allow Phoenix to evaluate both his fit and his health to consider re-signing him next season. Gasol's Bird Rights would be given to Phoenix in a trade, giving the Suns the ability to offer him the best deal as a free agent this summer if they so choose.

Gasol is averaging 17 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season. It's likely the Suns see the veteran as a center who would give them the ability to play inside-out while maintaining their spacing, something they currently don't have much of with second-year center Miles Plumlee and rookie Alex Len manning the middle.

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This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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