Two years ago today, the Lakers traded Marc Gasol, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and their 2008 and 2010 first rounders to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol and their 2010 second round pick. The Gasol-Gasol deal helped to shape these two franchises (possibly three if you read further) into what they are today.
At the time, Laker GM Mitch Kupchak was hailed as the second coming of Albert Spaggiari. Memphis GM Chris Wallace, who had already ruined the lives of many Celtics' fans while serving as its team's GM, now infuriated another fan base.
Gregg Popovich, coach of the rival San Antonio Spurs said about the trade, "What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension. There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I would have voted no to the LA trade."
Not exactly a glowing peer review.
However, now that we have been offered some perspective, how bad was this deal for the Grizz, and how great was it for Lakers?
From Memphis GM Chris Wallace's standpoint, it allowed his team to clear the approximately $60 million remaining on Gasol's contract off their books. Why pay all that money to the best player on a team constructed to win 15 games per season? In essence, they were hitting the reset button and starting fresh.
As fate would have it, Marc Gasol has turned into an above average center. In fact, it has been debated that he is more worthy of the 2010 NBA All Star selection than his brother, Pau.
McKie was immediately released and Brown was let go at season's end. The only value they provided was the clearing of cap space.
Crittendon, before being suspended for the now infamous Gilbert Arenas gun incident, was traded to Washington for a conditional draft (a pick that Memphis had previously sent to the Wizards for Juan Carlos Navarro). As an aside, is it possible to think that without the Gasol-Gasol deal the gun incident never happens? Seems plausible to me and now Wizards' fans have a reason to hate Chris Wallace too.
The Grizz used the Lakers' 2008 first rounder to select Donte Greene only to trade him to New Orleans for Darrell Arthur. After running into some off-the-court trouble (marijuana-related), he proved to be a serviceable big man for Memphis in 2009. A torn pectoral has shelved him for the entirety of this season. He figures to be an 8th or 9th man for a decent NBA team.
The swap of the Lakers' 2010 first rounder for the Grizz's 2010 second rounder provides another small upgrade (about 15 picks).
From the Lakers' perspective, this deal was and still is a slam dunk (possibly the worst pun of my writing career). Pau helped the Lakers reach the 2008 NBA Finals where they lost to the Celtics. In 2009, the Lakers won the NBA Finals. In 2010, the Lakers again have the makings of a Championship-caliber team as they currently own the League's second best record (37-11; half a game behind the Cavaliers).
Overall, the deal was pretty solid for both teams. It's easy to pick on Chris Wallace, but I think we (including Coach Pop) owe him a bit of an apology.
The cap space created from the deal allowed Memphis to take on Zach Randolph. Te team is much better positioned now to make a run in the West than it had been when the trade was made. (Critics can argue that keeping Gasol and drafting OJ Mayo would have resulted in a similar outcome, but I am not so sure.)
UPDATE: I missed the best part: these teams play each other tonight!