Lakers trade JaVale McGee and reach deal with three-time All-Star center Marc Gasol

Dan Woike
·5 min read
Boston Celtics' Daniel Theis (27) and Toronto Raptors' Marc Gasol (33) struggle.
Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol, right, battles with Boston's Daniel Theis for a rebound during a playoff game on Sept. 11. Gasol agreed to a deal with the Lakers on Sunday. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

On Feb. 1 2008, he was “other considerations” — such a nothing throw-in in the trade for his older brother that in The Times’ story that day, the lone mention of Marc Gasol came in the eighth paragraph.

Sunday, the Lakers brought those “other considerations” home.

Thanks to a cap-clearing trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Gasol finally will suit up for the Lakers, more than 13 years after they used a second-round pick on Pau’s little brother.

To make the space to sign Gasol to a two-year deal, the Lakers had to trade starting center JaVale McGee and a future second-round pick to Cleveland in a deal that netted them other considerations, in this case forwards Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie.

The Lakers are expected to waive Bell but could keep McKnnie, a 6-foot-7 wing who previously received rotation minutes with the Golden State Warriors before playing 40 games in Cleveland last year.

Unlike the trade that linked up Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol’s no afterthought this time. He’s the latest acquisition by the Lakers and general manager Rob Pelinka that has NBA fans buzzing.

The move came at the end of a day in which Boston's Jayson Tatum and Utah's Donovan Mitchell scored maximum extensions, and one of the top free agents left, Bogdan Bogdanovic, signed a big offer sheet with Atlanta.

But the Gasol move might’ve been Sunday’s biggest surprise, coming one day after the rival Clippers landed his former teammate Serge Ibaka in the arms race at the top of the West.

At his best, Gasol, who will turn 36 on Jan. 29, is a floor-spacing center who can hit three-point shots from above the wings while making the right pass at the right moment. He’s a cerebral defender who can use his supreme IQ and experience to make up for diminished quickness and athleticism.

Since working to become a three-point shooter in 2016, he’s made 36.6% from deep — a wildly valuable skill especially alongside LeBron James.

Toronto's Marc Gasol looks to pass around Boston's Robert Williams III.
Toronto's Marc Gasol looks to pass around Boston's Robert Williams III during an Eastern Conference semifinal game on Sept. 1. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Critics, though, will point to Gasol’s struggles inside the NBA bubble, where he badly slumped during the postseason. In the eight seeding games, Gasol made only 46.5% from the field and 28.6% from deep, numbers that got worse as Toronto tried to defend in the playoffs.

In 11 games, Gasol made just five of 27 from deep on his way to shooting a woeful 39.1%.

The hope is Gasol’s struggles were just a blip at the end of an incredibly long two years of basketball, a stretch in which he won his first NBA title and led Spain to a FIBA world championship.

While the Gasol acquisition is exciting, it comes with an actual cost.

McGee proved a valuable part of the Lakers’ rotation the last two seasons, starting 130 of his 143 regular-season games. A three-time NBA champion, McGee served as a rim-runner and shot blocker

Before the start of free agency, Pelinka vowed he wouldn’t be seduced into a sense of complacency after putting together the Lakers’ first championship team in a decade.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) comes down with a rebound in front of Los Angeles Lakers' JaVale McGee.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, comes down with a rebound in front of the Lakers' JaVale McGee and Danny Green during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Sept. 18. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“It’s easy to fall into complacency when you win a title and to just say, ‘Hey, let’s just run it back,’” Pelinka said Thursday. “But at the same time I think my school of thinking is always ‘Let’s find ways we can become even better. Every offseason let’s get better.’ I think we never want to just settle.”

So after helping build a title winner, Pelinka spent the last week gutting the roster. Up next is ironing out the details on a maximum extension for star big man Anthony Davis.

Of the 10 Lakers who played the most minutes and scored the most points this postseason, four are gone. Rajon Rondo is in Atlanta and Dwight Howard is in Philadelphia, reunited with Danny Green, who has been traded twice since the Lakers won their title.

A fifth player, Markieff Morris, still could return to the Lakers, though he’d have to take a veteran’s minimum deal.

In their place, though, the Lakers have added a wealth of new talent, putting them in good position to defend their title.

New point guard Dennis Schroder gives the Lakers a ball-handling, shot-creating option they lacked. Their other new center, Montrezl Harrell, the reigning sixth man of the year, should give the bench scoring punch and some snarl. Veteran wing Wesley Matthews should slide into the role carved out by Green, both as a threat on both ends of the court and a locker room leader.

That was impressive enough before Sunday’s swing, landing a three-time All-Star and two-time all-NBA center on the third day of free agency.

Thirteen years after they drafted him into the NBA, the Lakers have Gasol back in the fold, with the former “other consideration” back to help them try to repeat as champions.

Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.