The Lakers acquiring Pau Gasol shifts the entire league.
Not just the Western Conference, where the trade put added pressure on Dallas to further consider acquiring Jason Kidd. A trade that put pressure on San Antonio to worry about matching up. A trade that could keep Steve Nash out of the Finals again.
It's a big enough move to have everyone reconsidering.
When Andrew Bynum returns, the Lakers starting five will stand 6-foot-1, 6-6, 6-10, 7-0, 7-0. It's mobile. It's point guard is a clutch shooter, regular season or playoffs. That 6-6 guy is the best player on the planet, so that helps. Not to mention Kwame Brown was sent to Memphis in the deal. Maybe on the way he can stop by the Tin Man's house and ask him how he became so tough.
Gasol is an excellent fit for the triangle offense, first used by Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter at Kansas State in the mid-1950s. The style is loaded with options benefiting the smart and elegant, though its success is derived from simplicity.
Gasol's ability to pass, move his feet and make short jump shots are ideal in this system. He often is going to be in the post with passing options. At times, since the rest of the lineup is so long and versatile, he'll be on the weak side facing an opponent's worst post defender.
The most basic benefits of the offense fit Los Angeles' personnel. It easily creates corner 3-pointers for the point guard, in this case, Derek Fisher. It allows the the off guard, Kobe Bryant, space or to move into the post. It gives smart, versatile players, Lamar Odom and Gasol, options. It has built-in motion designed for post lobs; hello Andrew Bynum.
The trade also quells Bryant's formerly legitimate roster aggravation. His summer of "Ask Mitch" and trade rumors finally over, everyone has moved forward. Last weekend, surrounded by mics and cameras with the topic again a trade, just this time not of him, Bryant summarized what everyone else was thinking, "Now it's time to walk the walk."
He should be able to, considering he has significant help. Bringing in Gasol clarifies the bench. Jordan Farmar will substitute for Fisher, a statistical wash. Versatile Luke Walton, enthusiastic Ronny Turiaf for Gasol and Odom. Trevor Ariza, a quality defender, for Bryant. Vladimir Radmanovic is available in case no one has been yelled yet at for taking a bad shot. All aspects are covered.
Not to mention the move may set the NBA back 25 years. Though, that's a good thing because it means the league is better. The Celtics and Lakers are back, and will be for at least the next three seasons. San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans and Phoenix all will challenge L.A. Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland and Toronto will give Boston a hard time. Utah, Golden State and Portland are dangerous. When Dwyane Wade opts out in Miami in two seasons, who knows where he'll end up? Everyone better hope he doesn't join the LeBrons in Cleveland.
This is also a good move for Memphis. Well, the musical people in that city. Those who sing the blues and are looking for moping listeners. Rumor is the Grizzlies owner pushed general manager Chris Wallace to dump Gasol's contract (which Wallace denies), and dump more money by acquiring the largest expiring contract available. Why? In two years, Memphis will have a large amount of cap space enabling it to overspend on a free agent, making the team more attractive to a prospective buyer in the near future.
For now, the Grizzlies' blues have become Kobe's muse. The leader now has something to lead, his triangle relocated from Bermuda to the Land of Hope.
The Lakers' altered journey starts tonight in New Jersey, with Gasol wearing purple and gold for the first time. Blow the dust off the Beat L.A. signs. The Lakers are back.