Why trading Pau Gasol for Andrea Bargnani is a terrible idea

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have recently shut down trade talks with the Toronto Raptors. The discussion? A Pau Gasol / Andrea Bargnani swap with a dash of Jose Calderon to boot.

An Andrea Bargnani package for Pau Gasol isn't as bad as it se-

Stop right there. A) Yes it is. B) Yes it is. And, C) Yes it is. Andrea Bargnani; he of the reputation of a floor spreader when in all reality he's shooting a TERRIBLE percentage from beyond the arc for a player who needs to hit the three ball at a high clip in order to be effective on the floor (deep breath), is no replacement for Pau Gasol. 32.1%? Seriously? That's not floor spreading, that's floor clunking. He's finding plenty of open looks in the process yet his stroke is atrocious this season. With a player that has the skill-set he does (basically just being a tall dude who shoots the ball) he certainly hasn't mastered his craft. Only once in his career has he shot over 38% from long range. Even worse, he's a 7 footer who, on his career, averages only 4.9 rebounds per game.

The Lakers just gave up 21 offensive boards a few nights ago, playing a big man that Brook Lopez could make fun of for being a terrible rebounder is no remedy for that problem. Pau Gasol may be outworked for rebounds for stretches, but Bargnani is out-rebounded all of the time. Making matters worse, the historically terrible rebounding tall dude is actually rebounding at the lowest rate of his career right now, posting a loathsome 7.5% of the total rebounds available when he's on the floor. Pau nearly doubles that at a 14% clip, and that's below both Metta World Peace (8.5%)... and Kobe Bryant (8%).

How bad is Andrea Bargnani on the glass? After digging around Basketball-Reference, he is one of THREE total players considered a forward, center, or forward/center that is playing more than 30 minutes per game and has less than or equal to a 7.5% rebounding rate. The other two? Tayshaun Prince and Danny Green. That's it.

Andrea Bargnani is one of the worst rebounders in the league, if not the WORST considering he's 7 feet tall and is in the company of two players under 6'9'' (heck, Danny Green is 6'6'').

So all those times we may be frustrated Pau Gasol didn't get a rebound? Multiply that by two. Then drink gasoline, light a match, and blow.

Ok, fine, he can't rebound. But he can shoot! His skill set fits the Mike D'Antoni offense way more than Pau Gasol does.

I touched on it already, but he's shooting only 32.1% from deep on 4.7 attempts per game. That's unacceptable and will bring the offense to a screeching, seat belt whipping, stop. So, he doesn't rebound, and isn't stretching the floor effectively right now. How in the world is this a better option than just hanging onto Pau, who has been dealing with tendinitis in both knees during this "slump", where he's still shooting 42% from the field.

From the field, overall, Bargnani is shooting only 39.5%. Yes, that's right, under 40% for a player who many want to tout as a shooting threat. He's a threat alright, but not necessarily to the side we would want him to be pointing and shooting at if he were to ever wear the purple and gold. Going over his Synergy stats, as a spot-up shooter (which is what he would be asked to be in this offense, not that he can do other things offensively to great avail) he is shooting only 38.2%. From deep as a spot-up threat, he's shooting even worse, a dismal 31.1% (19-61. It hurt to type that). While Pau may not be a three point shooter in spot-up situations, he's still shooting 40.7% as a spot up shooter from mid-range distance, and that's with tendinitis in the knees and bursitis in the his elbow.

When Andrea Bargnani receives the Spalding basketball in his hands in the post area, expect a few jab steps, a jumper, and misery. Bargnani's post play is all about trying to get a jumper over his defender no matter how crowded he may be. The fact that he's 7 feet tall certainly helps this cause, but his distinct hatred for putting the ball on the floor in an attempt to get to the rim is downright appalling. Synergy provides proof of this, as I watched jumper after jumper clank off the rim in an endless stream, but in the search for knowledge I took to YouTube to find more Bargnani goodness, and came across a video titled "Andrea Bargnani Drives instead of pulling up". That's damning. A video was made just to show that he actually DROVE the ball as opposed to putting up a jump shot. The worst part? He committed an offensive foul when he drove in, so it wasn't as if it to show that he did a great job at finishing around the rim. The sole purpose of the video was to show he chose to drive instead of jacking a shot up. It was clip worthy; a shock to the creator of the video. Here, less talky more showy

So, there's that little issue.

Well he can't be worse than Pau defensively. Pau moves slower than Robocop and has tendinitis in both knees.

Oh, but he is. Andrea Bargnani allows 7 points per 100 possessions more than Pau Gasol. The same issues that exist with Pau Gasol as a perimeter defender also exist with Bargnani. He bodies up around the perimeter close, just as Pau does, and his opponents blow by just the same. Worse, he's even less assertive in the post, allowing opponents to work around him to get easy layups around the rim. Pau is moving slow defensively, but with the confirmation that the tendinitis is bad enough to force him to spend time off the court in an attempt to treat it, it may be correctable. Or, at the very least, improvable. Where Pau still shines, despite the inability to defend 15 feet and out, is in the post. He's holding opponents in the post to 32.4%, while Bargnani is being lit up for 41.9% in that same area.

Yes, Bargnani is a worse defender than Pau Gasol even when he is hampered by injuries and has been playing in the league 5 more years with extensive play on the global level as well.

Yeah... well... the real gem here is Jose Calderon who would HAVE to be in the package.

Jose Calderon is a good, to great, point guard offensively. Even with a lower minute average (27.7 mpg) while Kyle Lowry starts for Toronto, Calderon is averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 assists. If the Lakers could manage that type of production from their backup point guard that would be phenomenal. Scratch that, with the way things are going right now, that would be a HUGE lift offensively for the starters because there's still no timetable on Steve Nash set in stone. Steve Blake is going to be out at least another two months after having surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle, and Steve Nash is simply out "indefinitely" with the non-displaced fracture of his fibula. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon have been left to try and steady the ship (a ship that relies heavily on point guard play, mind you) while the rest of the team tries to adjust to a "take the first shot that feels right" system.

Still, eventually, Steve Nash will return and likely play 30+ minutes a night when the playoffs roll around, which is what really matters for this team. Having Calderon come off the bench would undoubtedly help maintain the flow offensively for the Lakers, but with the talent on hand already, is that type of production going to be necessary when there are plenty of other players to score?

With the offense humming with or without Calderon, his defense is worse than that of even Steve Nash (the same point guard who's defense worried many going into the season). Calderon allows .95 points per possession, and over 100 possessions is allowing 112 points to be scored. That's awful. In a Western Conference that features the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, and Mike Conley running two point guards who can't defend is putting far too much pressure on the rest of the defense.

Yes, Calderon would be considered an upgrade over Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, and Darius Morris in net gain terms. How many point guards wouldn't be? But, when considering he'd be playing roughly 18 minutes off the bench, how much will that matter when he's getting blown up by any other point guard he lines up against?

So, no to the Toronto deal then, eh?

No. No no no. A year ago there would be more gain to be considered with Jose Calderon filling in as a starter, but with a point guard (see: Steve Nash. He's pretty good) that can do all he does (but better), he becomes much less of a great pickup for the Lakers. Andrea Bargnani is a massive downgrade from Pau Gasol, and the best part of this trade would be Jose Calderon who now becomes a luxury off the bench. Unless the Lakers truly believe that the injuries they are facing are going to be supremely detrimental long term (Pau Gasol's tendinitis and Steve Nash's fracture) there's absolutely no reason to try and spin this kind of deal with Toronto.

With the biggest upside of this deal being the addition of a backup point guard better than the current options on board, the Lakers can find a gain greater than this by not moving Pau Gasol at all and look into drifting free agent Delonte West (as we here have kicked around multiple times). If faced with the choice of either trading Pau to add Bargnani and Calderon or to add West on a veteran's minimum contract, it seems fairly easy to choose between the two. Pau Gasol, and the Lakers, at the very least deserve the opportunity to see the Spaniard without tendinitis and with Steve Nash now that Mike D'Antoni has become the head coach. It's not shocking by any means that the Lakers shut down trade talks before they became overbearing; there's nothing to lose in telling Toronto no, adamantly. Bargnani isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and as long as Toronto they holds onto the hope that they may eventually pry Gasol out of the hands of the Lakers, there's no rush to send Andrea packing. The Lakers aren't making any hasty decisions with Pau's future, and the Raptors are clearly at a disadvantage, best detailed by Holly Mackenzie who covers the Toronto Raptors for Sportsnet.ca.

The problem with having Bargnani on this roster -- something that wouldn't be a problem if he were on another team with more offensive options where he hadn't been peddled as a face of the franchise for the past few years -- is that while he is here, he has to play. It's hard to keep a player as talented as him on the bench when the team is struggling. It's also hard to play him when he is struggling.

Sitting him brings another problem, though. If the team is indeed trying to move him, he cannot be moved if he doesn't play, but playing him while he plays badly also doesn't help the team's case. - Holly Mackenzie, Sportsnet

Even simpler? Pau Gasol has a net +/- of +8.6 per 100 possessions, while Andrea Bargnani is only +1 for the Toronto Raptors. This is while they try and find a way to play him in just the right increments to use him as trade bait.

And I haven't even gotten into how much better Pau Gasol is at facilitating in comparison to Bargnani. Nor do I need to.

There's absolutely no need to push Pau Gasol out of the picture for Bargnani while the roster is still trying to find a six letter word called health. There's little to nothing to gain and a great deal to lose. Pau deserves the chance to find his way in the offense and get his knees where they need to be, Nash deserves a chance to run the offense with Pau as a cog, and we deserve a front office that won't knee jerk and make this kind of trade without properly evaluating the situation. As The Great Mambino said in his great post covering the high degree of difficulty of finding a trade partner for Pau, there's really only one move.

Make this work.

Oh, and a little gem on the way out.

Jamiso_medium

(The image is very blurry in the post, but if you click it clarity ensues)

And Antawn Jamison has only recently started to get consistent playing time.

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @BallReasons

- Statistical data provided by 82games.com, MySynergySports.com, and Basketball-Reference.com

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