By Jason Wojciechowski on February 2, 2008 at 1:02 AM
The trade of Pau Gasol to L.A. is the most exciting transaction the Lakers have pulled off since the Shaq signing. First, of course, he\'s a low-post presence to hold the fort until Andrew Bynum gets back. Second, once Bynum gets back, he has the kind of all-around game that should mesh well with Bynum (who\'s only effective in the paint). Third, the Lakers gave up almost nothing to get Gasol: Kwame Brown\'s expiring deal was the only important piece given up, and that\'s, of course, exactly what you\'re supposed to do with expiring deals: trade them for good players. L.A. also gave up Javaris Crittenton, who might be a good player but was stuck behind Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic anyway, two first round picks (2008 and 2010) which should be quite low, and the rights to Marc Gasol, Pau\'s brother, who the Lakers took in the second round of the 2007 Draft.
The Lakers now run out, when healthy, a lineup of Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom (at the three!), Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. Chris Mihm and Ronny Turiaf are the backup bigs (and, I guess, DJ Mbenga when Mihm is hurt); Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Walton, and Trevor Ariza are the SF/SG types, and Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar are the backup guards. The weakness is at the backup big spot, but the Lakers have been perfectly content to have Turiaf run a lot of minutes at center, relying on his energy to make up for his lack of height.
One thing Phil Jackson must love is that this is a team with a lot of size: only Farmar and Fisher are small guys, and Jackson has always tolerated a little guy if he can shoot (Steve Kerr? Not that Farmar or Fisher are Steve Kerr-level shooters or anything). Everyone else is at least 6\'7\", with a lot of those being of the run-up-and-down-the-floor type: Vladi, Walton, Odom; even Pau isn\'t immobile.
This should be a fun, fun team, even in Bynum\'s absence. Assuming Bynum meshes with the new big-man, this should also be a force to reckon with in the playoffs.