This past weekend, ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne unofficially confirmed that a Bill Simmons-posited fake trade of Pau Gasol and another expiring piece (Simmons suggested Steve Blake, who has since been shelved for about six weeks with an elbow injury) from the Lakers for a Luol Deng rental and Carlos Boozer’s massive contract has in fact been talked about.
Really, it would make sense for both sides – we appeal to Jerry Reinsdorf’s oft-lamented and very real cheapness by unloading the Boozer contract instead of having to amnesty it, and by including Deng in the deal we are able to get under the salary cap this season and also make the team much, much worse, hopefully positioning ourselves for a lottery pick. Thibodeau will hate Gasol’s hit-or-miss defensive commitment, of course, and he will really hate losing Deng (as will I, but it really does look like he's going to walk at the end of the season anyway), so this is the kind of move that should only be made if (a) Thibodeau has bought in to tanking this year or (b) the Thibodeau-GarPax relationship is beyond repair. It certainly sounds like (b) is kind of a possibility. Honestly, it might be good for all of us to take a step back and think about the team’s long-term future. This fan would loathe to lose Thibs, and would much rather shake GarPax, but if we can’t swing that, then I think tanking is clearly what we should be doing.
Counting on the Bulls to just get injured so that we can lose games with people who probably shouldn’t be in the NBA anyway (i.e. Marquis Teague -- I'm calling it now) wasting roster spots will not guarantee enough losses to have a real shot at the top prize in this draft, which suddenly looks to be Jabari Parker or Julius Randle, with Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart, and Australian phenom Dante Exum, in some order, occupying the next tier immediately behind them. Granted, tanking for, say, a two-person draft a la the teams who tanked for Oden and Durant in ’07 is highly risky; but tanking in a draft that may have as many as eight game changers seems to make oodles of sense, no?