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Report: Suns want a look at Pau Gasol back from injury

By Royce Young | NBA writer

Pau Gasol is reportedly off the trade block.   (USATSI)
The Suns want to see Pau Gasol healthy. (USATSI)
The Lakers and Suns were talking a little about Pau Gasol recently, but things never really got anywhere near the side of serious.

Because before talks escalate to something actually happening, the Suns want to see the Laker forward on the court and healthy again, according to ESPN.com:

Sources told ESPN.com that, while there is substantive interest on both sides, it's believed Suns officials want to see how Gasol recovers from a strained groin before deciding whether to take talks to the next level.

Gasol posted on his Instagram account on Monday that he had a PRP injection for his troublesome groin injury.

"Today I got a PRP shot to help the healing of my groin injury. I will work hard to be back with the team as soon as possible."

The trade likely, is one involving Emeka Okafor's expiring deal and probably a few picks, something of which the Suns have four of in the first round this year.

One option for the Suns, by virtue of their $5.6 million in available salary-cap space, is swapping the expiring contract of injured big man Emeka Okafor for Gasol, even though Okafor's $14.5 million salary this season falls well shy of Gasol's $19.3 million. A trade for Okafor's expiring deal would save the Lakers $4.8 million, taking them less than $3 million away from the league's luxury-tax threshold, meaning one more smaller deal before the trade deadline could conceivably be enough to take them out of tax territory completely.

Because the trade would not bring the Lakers all the way under the luxury tax, sources said L.A. remains insistent on getting back draft picks or young players in addition to salary cap savings for the 33-year-old Gasol.

Gasol has been excellent as of late, averaging 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds in January, showing somewhat of a resurgance as a high-low post player.

It's a pretty no-brainer move for the Lakers who have slipped well out of the Western Conference playoff discussion, and are angling for more flexibility in the future. They need youth, they need picks, and they need cap space.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has recently said he's after an All-Star caliber player on the open market. Gasol obviously fits that criteria, but the Suns want to make sure they're getting a healthy player back. And with some recent injury issues that he's dealt with, that's only wise.

The trade deadline isn't until Feb. 20, so there's plenty of time to be patient and get a look. But with a name like Gasol dangling out there, and draft picks being so valuable this year, we could see some fireworks come deadline day.

 
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