When Pau Gasol arrived in Los Angeles five years ago, he was the missing link for the desperately rebuilding Lakers. His passing, vision, skill and selflessness fit seamlessly into Phil Jackson's triangle offense, and suddenly the Lakers were back to being the Lakers feared, loathed and on their way to three straight NBA Finals appearances and back-to-back titles.
Now, with the team having been dispatched by a better team for the second consecutive season in the Western Conference semifinals, Gasol is again the solution for the Lakers.
This time, though, they must trade him.
There's nothing wrong with Gasol's skill set. Though he turns 32 in July, Gasol has never relied on his athleticism or quickness, gifts that diminish over time. He is still a matchup nightmare, a 7-foot forward who, this season, expanded his range to the 3-point line, much to Andrew Bynum's chagrin.
What has changed is the Lakers. With Bynum's development into a dominant low-post player ...