The NBA: To Be or Not To Be (Traded)?

Kobe and Pau are all smiles with the Lakers' latest win,
but their is a swelling sense of dread underneath it all.

*All images are from the Associated Press.

"Obviously it would be nice to know one way or the other for my mind's sake." –  Lakers forward Pau Gasol on talks he will be traded.

The prospect of still being a Laker or not – it’s obviously something hounding Pau right now.

And not just him, too.

It’s still a long while before the feared trade deadline is at hand, but already Kobe Bryant is exerting pressure on his front office to put an end to the trade rumors persisting about Gasol.

He didn’t exactly say he’d want to keep Gasol, though.

Kobe just wants the Lakers to make the final choice – to be or not to be (traded)?

In short, Kobe wants the team to get this perceived distraction over and done with so they can focus on doing what they do best – winning basketball games.

Gasol, for one, would prefer staying. And if he does leave, he’d prefer leaving ASAP.

"I'm not trying to force the team, if they want to trade me, trade me tomorrow," Gasol said.

Strong words, big fella.

And can anyone really blame him? It’s quite apparent he’s no longer seen as the top big man on the team (that accolade now belongs to All-Star Center Andrew Bynum), and judging by how the Lakers’ season has been going (they’ve barely won more games than they lost this month), the trajectory isn’t as appealing as rumored interested parties like Chicago or even New York (okay, NYK doesn’t have a winning record yet, but they did go 9-2 in their last 11, which is better than how the Lakers did).

On the other hand, can anyone really blame Lakers manager Mitch Kupchak for, well, doing what a manager does at this point in the season?

And what is that exactly?

Hold out. See what happens. Keep one’s cards close to one’s chest.

Until one has to do what has to be done.

I guess one thing hounding Kobe, Gasol, the whole Lakers team and their fans is that, right now, change is needed. I honestly don’t think the Lakers have enough to be able to make it past the second round of the playoffs. At best.

They have two of the best bigs in the world and the best 30-something player in the league, but with the SF and PG spots performing inconsistently, they’re a notch or two lower than the Thunder and the Spurs.

Perhaps we can paraphrase Kobe’s sentiments this way, “Change things. And change them NOW.”

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

CHI over ATL, 90-79
Derrick Rose returned from a five-game absence and scored 23 points to go with six assists and five rebounds as the Bulls held off the Hawks. Carlos Boozer netted 16 points, while Joakim Noah pulled down 16 rebounds for Chicago, which outrebounded Atlanta 15-8 on the offensive glass and 51-41 overall.
NJN over NYK, 100-92
Carmelo Anthony was hoping for a triumphant return to Madison Square Garden after missing seven games with a groin injury. Deron Williams had other ideas. Williams drained a career-high eight three- pointers and had a season-high 38 points, and the Nets held off a fourth quarter run to down the Knicks.
DAL over BOS, 89-73
Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and the Mavericks never trailed in handing the Celtics a fourth straight loss. Jason Terry chipped in 16 points and 6 assists for the Mavs, who took advantage of no Kevin Garnett (personal) and no Rajon Rondo (suspension).
HOU over MEM, 97-93
Kyle Lowry scored a game-high 24 points with 9 assists and 7 rebounds as the Rockets held off the Grizzlies. Kevin Martin netted 22 points and Luis Scola chipped in 10 for the Rockets, who have won two straight and three of their last four.
ORL over MIL, 93-90
Quiet for most of the night, Ryan Anderson knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with 18.1 seconds remaining and the Magic edged the Bucks. Dwight Howard had a huge night with 28 points and 16 rebounds while Jameer Nelson chipped in 15 points and 5 assists for the Magic, who have won all three games against the Bucks this season.
OKC over NOH, 101-93
After combining for 91 points on Sunday, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook totaled 62 together the Thunder held off the Hornets to earn their 10th straight home victory. Jarrett Jack dropped in 18 points to lead five double-digit scorers for New Orleans, which had its season-high three-game win streak snapped.
DEN over MIN, 103-101 (OT)
Arron Afflalo drained the go-ahead shot with 33.7 seconds remaining as the Nuggets outlasted the Timberwolves in overtime. Afflalo had 20 points overall and Al Harrington paced all scorers with a season-high 31 off the bench. Kenneth Faried contributed a double-double with 10 points to go with 14 rebounds for the Nuggets, who snapped a three-game skid.
PHX over WAS, 104-88
Steve Nash had 12 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds as the Suns pulled away in the second half to earn their 10th straight win over the Wizards. Marcin Gortat added 20 points, while Channing Frye finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, who haven't lost to the Wizards since 2006.
SAS over UTA, 106-102
Tony Parker had 23 points and 11 assists and the Spurs extended their winning streak to 11 games at the expense of the Jazz. Tim Duncan and Matt Bonner scored 20 points apiece for the shorthanded Spurs, who learned earlier that guard Manu Ginobili and forward Tiago Splitter were expected to miss the next two weeks with injuries.
GSW over LAC, 104-97
Monta Ellis scored 32 points and the Warriors finished on a 9-0 run to beat the Clippers, and snap a three-game losing streak. David Lee added 24 points and 13 rebounds in the win while Ekpe Udoh had 19 points and 8 boards before going down late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
LAL over POR, 103-92
What a difference a day makes. Kobe Bryant, just 24 hours after expressing his displeasure regarding the Lakers' handling of star forward Pau Gasol, was all smiles after scoring 28 points in LA’s victory over the Blazers. Gasol, mired in trade talks throughout the season, totaled 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Andrew Bynum added 14 and 19 in the win, the Lakers' fourth in five games.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Deron Williams (NJN) – 38
Monta Ellis (GSW) – 32
Al Harrington (DEN), Russell Westbrook (OKC), & Kevin Durant (OKC) – 31

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 19
Dwight Howard (ORL), Dirk Nowitzki (DAL), & Joakim Noah (CHI) – 16

Andrew Bynum's 19 ribbies continued to validate
his All-Star Starter selection

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Andre Miller (DEN) – 12
Tony Parker (SAS) & Steve Nash (PHX) – 11

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Carlos Delfino (MIL) – 5
A LOT with 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Kendrick Perkins (OKC) – 6
Nicolas Batum (POR) & Jermaine O’Neal (BOS) – 4

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Deron Williams (NJN) – 8
Mo Williams (LAC) – 6
Matt Bonner (SAS), Steve Blake (LAL), & Jannero Pargo (ATL) – 5

Deron Williams hit a career-high 8 triples against
Jeremy Lin's New York Knicks.

Feb. 20, 2012 First Five
C – Dwight Howard (ORL) – 28pts, 16rebs, 4asts, 3stls, 1blk
F – Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 26pts, 16rebs, 2blks, 1ast, 1stl
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 31pts, 8rebs, 4asts, 3 treys, 2stls, 1blk
G – Deron Williams (NJN) – 38pts, 8 treys, 6asts, 4rebs, 1stl
G – Monta Ellis (GSW) – 32pts, 5rebs, 4 treys, 4asts, 1stl

Honorable Mention:
Kyle Lowry (HOU) – 24pts, 9asts, 7rebs, 4stls, 3 treys
Tony Parker (SAS) – 23pts, 11asts, 6rebs, 3stls
David Lee (GSW) – 24pts, 13rebs, 3stls, 2asts

Kyle Lowry's strong play has helped the Rockets
stay in contention for a playoff spot.

Daily Zap:


*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Sports Network.
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