The Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Jarvis Crittenton, two first round picks and Aaron McKie for Pau Gasol and a second round pick. "Aaron McKie?" you say. Yes, the same guy that hasn't played all year, played 24 games in the past two years and actually was a free agent yesterday. Yep, the Lakers signed him just to make the salaries work. Pretty sweet deal for McKie. I doubt the Grizzlies even ask him to show up. I wonder what's preventing the Grizzlies from buying him out for a predetermined low amount. The Lakers could have called McKie earlier in the week, saying they needed to sign him to a one year, $3 million dollar deal to make the cap numbers work in a trade. But the Grizzlies were going to buy him out for only $100000 afterwards. You think he'd say no to that? $100000 to sign a couple sheets of paper?
I presume the NBA has some sorts of rules preventing that, but then again they don't have rules preventing the total circumvention of the trade rules that obviously occurred.
You know what really pisses me off? Everyone knows the deal here. McKie isn't going to play for the Grizzlies. No one is fooling anyone. So why not find a single-mother living in a shit hole in LA and sign her to a one-year contract and trade her to Memphis? McKie, a rich man already, gets richer by doing absolutely nothing.
[Edit: I may have this wrong, but the Lakers needed to pay McKie a minimum of $750000 to make the salaries work, but since he's a +10 year vet they had to sign him to a $1.22 million deal; prorated for the rest of the year and that's $522000 dollars.]
As for the trade, the Lakers obviously got better. As Hollinger pointed out, Gasol can play the high post in the triangle and actually be a threat to can the 15-20' jumper (something Kwame couldn't do). Does this make the Lakers the favorite in the West? Hell, I don't know. Maybe? It definitely makes it less likely that the Spurs will come out of the West. They currently would have to play the Lakers --> New Orleans --> Dallas / PHX. The Spurs could legitimately lose any one of those series. When's the last time we were really worried about their first round opponent?
Oh, and about Gasol being soft. They traded Kwame Brown for him people. The man was called a puss by his own 75 year-old hunch-backed coach. If it weren't for Brad Miller, Kwame Brown would be the softest NBA player ever to wear corn-rows.