As the March 15 trade deadline rapidly nears, no player -- who doesn't want to be traded -- has had his name bandied about more than Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol. After the league office nixed the Chris Paul trade in December, which would have sent him to Houston, Gasol shrugged off the fact that the Lakers no longer needed his services and tried to act as if it was business as usual. But as the rumor mill heated up before the All-Star break, with Gasol's name churning through it at full speed, the cornerstone of two world-champion teams knew the reality of this season was that he was on the trading block. But if the Lakers want to return to the Finals for the first time since 2010, trading Gasol would be a bad idea.
Here are five reasons trading Gasol is bad news for the Lakers:
1. There's nobody better
Unless the name on the back of the jersey says Howard, very few players are worth letting go of Pau. Chris Paul was one of them, but -- unfortunately for Lakers fans -- he's no longer available. LaMarcus Aldridge? Kevin Love? Not even on the market. Gasol's trade value will never be higher, and the Lakers know that, but any potential trade the Lakers put together for Gasol likely will compromise their immediate title hopes. In fact, no name or combination of players mentioned in possible deals exceeds Gasol's talent level. In almost every case, the Lakers would be downgrading their roster.