Jan 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns forward Miles Plumlee (22) in the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Trade Rumor: Pau Gasol to Phoenix?

Right before the Super Bowl kicked off, Marc Stein dropped a little nugget on his blog that the Phoenix Suns are heavily interested in Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol. Here are Stein’s exact words:

The Phoenix Suns have emerged as a potential trade suitor for Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol, according to sources close to the process.

 

Sources told ESPN.com that the Suns, among the options being weighed as part of their well-chronicled desire to acquire an established player as they make an unexpected playoff push this season, have been exploring the feasibility of trading for the Lakers’ four-time All-Star.

 

via Suns explore deal for Pau Gasol | ESPN

What the Lakers would be agreeing to is similar to what they had spoken to the Cleveland Cavaliers about. They’d sent out Pau Gasol in return for Emeka Okafor’s $14.5 million salary and a draft pick. It’s unclear if that’d be the exact deal, but Okafor and one of the four draft picks the Suns in exchange for Pau works straight up. Phoenix would bolster their current unit as they attempt to make a run at the playoffs while the Lakers save money on the books and get closer to a top-3 pick in the NBA lottery.

Now you’re wondering what this has to do with the Los Angeles Clippers right?

Regardless of whether this trade happens or not, Clips fans must keep their eyes on Emeka Okafor. Odds are if he’s traded he’ll be released. This gives the Clippers a chance to add the quality third big the front office has been looking for all season. Health is an issue here as Okafor hasn’t played a minute this season due to a neck injury suffered prior to his trade from the Washington Wizards.

But when healthy Okafor fits exactly what the Clippers are looking for: a defensive big man that can score in half-court settings. Last season for the Wizards, Emeka averaged 9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.0 block in 26 minutes per game. The points per game number doesn’t pop, but that’s not what he’d be in Los Angeles for nor is it what the Clippers would sign him for. His job would solely be to defend, rebound and provide the vaunted veteran leadership that’s all the rave nowadays.

This is all a bunch of ifs though because Emeka has yet to be cleared for play and there’s been no update on whether he’d even be available for the season. But keep your eye on this entire situation and Okafor in general.

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Tags: Emeka Okafor Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers NBA Nba Trade Rumors Pau Gasol Phoenix Suns

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