It’s been nearly five years since the Memphis Grizzlies sent Pau Gasol to the L.A. Lakers in what was one of the more vilified deals in NBA history. In exchange for an All-Star big man who helped the Lakers secure two titles, the Grizzlies received luminary talents Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton, aging veteran Aaron McKie, and the draft rights to Marc Gasol, Pau’s promising, but pudgy, younger brother.
As hard as it is to believe now, Crittenton, picked 19th in 2007, was the more highly rated prospect at the time. Drafted 47th overall by the Lakers that same year, Marc was almost viewed as a throw-in to the deal, but despite being a relative afterthought, the unheralded Gasol has emerged as one of the league’s best centers, and a trade once considered lopsided now seems markedly more balanced.
This summer, another mega-trade landed a star big man in Los Angeles while leaving his old team with compensation that seemed rather ordinary. Initially, it looked as if, other than a handful of draft picks (three firsts and two seconds), the Orlando Magic would have little to show in exchange for Dwight Howard. But among the mildly overpaid veterans (Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington) and assorted flotsam (Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga), the Magic received Nikola Vucevic, an unheralded first-round pick fresh off a solid, but uninspiring, rookie season. Much like Gasol did for Memphis, Vucevic is emerging as an unexpected force who might eventually alter how we view a franchise-changing trade.