Gregg Popovich on the Pau Gasol deal
We had a fun exchange with Gregg Popovich tonight at Staples ahead of San Antonio's tussle with the Clippers (yes, we do attend LAC games from time to time), when the subject of the Pau Gasol trade came up. "You mean the one where I fainted?" he asked with a smile.
Pop, no surprise, still sees that deal as a watershed. "Pau Gasol changed the landscape of basketball in the NBA, as far as the west is concerned, and championship caliber basketball. He's a great player, perhaps the most versatile big man in the league right now, and it makes them really, really good."
Andy then asked him if the development of Pau's lil' bro in Memphis makes the deal perhaps a little less lopsided. Marc has, after all, become a very good NBA player down in Memphis, and is still very early in his career. Maybe, just maybe, it was a more equitable swap than he originally thought?
"Please," he said with a sarcastic eye roll. "Please."
From his perspective, it doesn't really matter how good Marc becomes, since he's concerned about winning titles, not the rebuilding effort in Memphis. Thus anything that creates a dominant team in LA will seem disproportional. But it does drive home how Pau's presence turned an already quality Lakers team into something truly feared around the league. It's hard to think of another deal that, as Popovich says, "changed the landscape... in the NBA." Not just because of what it did for the Lakers, but how it affected the way other teams operated around them, their moves, and so on.