Our (my) Gasol dream may be dead

One by one the candidates of the fabled 'star acquisition' are dropping out. Garnett's been traded to Boston, and now Memphis seems to be building around Pau Gasol as opposed to trading him, as evidenced by the acquisition of Gasol's countryman: Juan Carlos Navarro.

Blog-A-Bull pal Tom Ziller writes at Fanhouse:

this is a blow for Chicago if they were at all thinking about making another run at Gasol this coming season. Memphis wouldn't go get this guy without thinking they're keeping Pau around a while. This move, as much basketball sense as it may make, was made to placate the angry Gasol. Unless hell freezes over Kobe Bryant forces a trade to Chicago, the Bulls have struck out on all the big names they were hoping for.

John Hollinger has been critical of the Gasol non-acquisition since the trade deadline passed, and reiterated his point last week:

I'll say it again -- that was a ginormous mistake the Bulls made. They might win the East anyway, but they needed Gasol to have a legit shot at the whole enchilada....Gasol might be the most underrated player in the league at this point. He was exactly what the Bulls needed -- a post scorer who can pass and set up their jump shooters....Going to be very hard [to trade for Gasol midseason], actually, with all the BYC issues on their most desirable players and the lack of a P.J. -sized contract to throw into the pot. Also, one bigger problem: I don't think Memphis wants to trade him anymore.

At least he's been consistent. But at the time, the proposed trade (Deng+Brown+Thabo according to reports) could've killed the Bulls season even with getting Gasol. Nocioni was still hurt (and as we saw even when he came back he wasn't the same) so without a SF we'd all have front-row seats to the A-drain Griffin show, or worse yet more 3-guard lineups. Gasol's a better player than Deng, but the season could've went awry with the holes that trade would've opened.

So would it be worth potentially wrecking last season to have a potentially better roster this season? Hollinger seems to think so, but regardless of that opinion it's hard to call keeping Luol Deng a 'mistake'. A missed opportunity with palpable contracts, sure, but Luol isn't an asset that's going to lose value, whether that means becoming better than Gasol or not.

I really liked Gasol as 'the' acquisition, because I think he is underrated (as Hollinger says) as a player, and is both younger and cheaper than Garnett (or Jermaine O'Neal or something). It would've been nice, that's for sure.

But to reference the original point that the opportunity of getting a star player is lost (Elton Brand (and his opt-out after the season)  is another now-unviable candidate), I don't think Pax wants a Garnett trade. He wants a Rasheed Wallace trade: a great player that can be had for spare parts. Gutting the team shouldn't be part of the plan, and with the team this close to contention I don't see it happening. It's not about acquiring big names, it's about upgrading the team. And it won't be until Pax is convinced that Hinrich/Deng/Gordon will never make it happen that this team gets broken up and remade around a star acquisition. And even then I don't think we'll see two out of the three getting shipped out for Kobe. 

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