It's really not an NBA season these days without trade rumors swirling around Pau Gasol. Ever since the infamous non-trade involving Gasol and Chris Paul, the Spaniard has been the center of trade talks that never came to fruition. And as the 2014 trade deadline came and went, it was just more of the same.
Gasol stayed put yet again, with the Los Angeles Lakers choosing to keep the big man, his $19.3 million expiring contract and his Bird rights as he prepares to enter free agency this summer. Those Bird rights could come in handy if the Lakers want to keep Gasol or, perhaps more likely, move him in a sign-and-trade deal. If the plan is to create as much cap space as possible, Gasol's massive cap hold may simply have to be waived, which would render those Bird rights useless. Gasol could also just choose to sign elsewhere on the cheap.
Los Angeles certainly had no shortage of conversations when it came to Gasol. The rumors started to really pick up in late December, when it was revealed that the Lakers had talked to the Brooklyn Nets about a possible Gasol-for-Brook Lopez swap in early December.
Those discussions never really materialized into anything, but soon after, it was revealed that the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers were talking about a trade involving Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Cleveland had coveted Gasol in the offseason, and with the Bynum situation going downhill, they tried to take advantage of the situation. However, the Lakers' asking price was too high, and the Cavs instead wound up making a deal with the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.
A few other teams were also linked to Gasol. The Charlotte Bobcats had interest in the big man for a playoff push, while the Lakers reached out to the Minnesota Timberwolves about a possible trade for Kevin Love, with Gasol likely being the centerpiece. But neither of those talks had much traction.
The deal many expected to go down, but didn't, was with the Phoenix Suns. With the Suns right in the thick of the playoff hunt, they made it clear they wanted to make a move for an established veteran for the stretch run and postseason. Armed with nearly $6 million in cap space, Emeka Okafor's $14.5 million expiring contract and a bevy of first-round picks, Phoenix approached Los Angeles about Gasol.
That deal would have gotten the Lakers really close to the tax line, but a high asking price and a groin injury to Gasol complicated matters. By the time the deadline rolled around, the talks between the two teams were essentially dead.
So Gasol will play out the rest of his contract in Los Angeles on a Lakers team that's hurtling toward a high lottery pick. Kobe Bryant's future is a mystery, and really, so is Gasol's. There's always a chance that Gasol does return, but it seems likely that his time in Los Angeles is over after a quite the thrill ride in the purple and gold. Gasol should have his fair share of suitors in the offseason, so it will be interesting to see where he spends the next chapter of his career.