The Los Angeles Lakers recently rejected a Timberwolves trade offer for forward Pau Gasol that would revolve around Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic and forward Derrick Williams, according to an ESPN.com report citing sources with knowledge of the Lakers' thinking.
The report claimed that the Lakers also turned down an offer from the Toronto Raptors.
A Wolves spokesman said Thursday, Dec. 6, that president of basketball operations David Kahn would not comment on the report.
This is not the first time the 32-year-old Gasol, a friend of Spanish countryman and Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio, has been linked to trade talks with Minnesota. The Wolves reportedly pursued Gasol in talks before the 2012 draft and last season's trade deadline. Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft, was mentioned as possible trade bait for Gasol in the past, as well as then-Wolves forward Michael Beasley and a first-round pick.
Williams' name also surfaced in a potential sign-and-trade deal last summer with the Portland Trail Blazers for free-agent forward Nicolas Batum. Batum eventually re-signed with Portland, which matched the Wolves' four-year, $46.5 million offer sheet.
Williams' long-term future with the Wolves could be questionable after his name has come up in reported trade talks so early in his career.
"Derrick is a very talented player with a lot of value. ... He's a valuable piece," Wolves TV analyst Jim Petersen said of the second-year forward. "His numbers
aren't bad, but he has to learn how to play hard all the time. As an observer, that's my major thing with him. You can see all the talent dripping off him."
Williams has been struggling to make an impact during the Wolves' injury problems at the forward position with Kevin Love (broken hand), Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and Chase Budinger (knee surgery).
The injuries gave Williams the opportunity to assert himself, but he's been virtually a non-factor in Wolves coach Rick Adelman's rotation.
In the Wolves' past five games, Williams is averaging 12.5 minutes, 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. He has attempted only eight free throws in the stretch -- and in three of the past five games, he did not get to the free-throw line at all, including Wednesday night in the Wolves' 104-94 loss at Boston. The Wolves play Milwaukee on Friday night at Target Center.
Adelman's rotation at the forward spots has become more crowded with Love's return, the arrival of Josh Howard and Dante Cunningham's impressive play off the bench. When Kirilenko returns, Williams' playing time could drop even more.
"Derrick has played a lot better the last two weeks, but it's hard to find minutes with multiple players at the same position," Petersen said. "You're trying to find chemistry with your team. The coaching staff has been trying to get Love on track, and Dante has been unbelievably good. You better believe Rick is going to play the guys he feels he can win with."
The Lakers have yet to confirm their intentions to trade the 7-foot Gasol, a four-time all-star who has had difficulty adapting to new coach Mike D'Antoni's system. Gasol is a career 18.5-points-per-game scorer and 51.9 percent shooter from the floor, but he's averaging 9.0 points and shooting 36.5 percent (19 of 52) in his past six games. Gasol has missed the Lakers' past two games with tendinitis in his knees.
The Wolves likely would have to move two players to create room for Gasol's $19.0 million salary this season. Gasol is due $19.2 million in 2013-14, the final year of a three-year extension he signed in 2009. Gasol's salary and health could make it difficult for the Lakers to trade him.
In the ESPN.com report, however, sources indicated that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak will pursue a Gasol trade if he continues to struggle under D'Antoni, who took over the Lakers on Nov. 11 after Mike Brown was fired five games into the season.
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