by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni 

According to multiple published reports, the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are discussing a possible trade for center Pau Gasol.

The Suns are said to be dangling Emeka Okafor’s expiring $14.5 million deal in exchange for the former All-Star.

Per ESPN and the LA Times:

A trade for Okafor’s expiring deal would not save the Lakers as much as a deal for (Andrew) Bynum would have, but it would come with undeniable financial benefits. The $4.8 million difference between Gasol’s cap number and Okafor’s would immediately drop the Lakers less than $3 million away from the league’s luxury-tax threshold, meaning one more smaller deal before the Feb. 20 trade deadline could conceivably be enough to take them out of tax territory completely.

It’s usually a no-no to deal with a division rival, but the Suns have quietly stockpiled draft choices and can offer the Lakers a first-rounder in the June draft, considered one of the best in years. The Suns could hold up to four first-round picks this year, depending on the records of past trade partners Minnesota, Indiana and Washington.

Emeka Okafor hasn’t played in 2013-14 due to a neck injury.

Pau Gasol, dealing with a sore right groin, is expected to miss at least one week. The 33-year old has rallied back from early-season struggles with averages of 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds the last month. Gasol scored 20 or more points in his last 10 games, the longest such streak of his career.

Pau will be a free agent this summer, and is reportedly comfortable with a trade to Phoenix (the Lakers at 16-31 are going nowhere.)

The Suns, continuing to surprise with a 29-18 record, are intrigued by Gasol since they would be acquiring a solid big man for the rest of the year without negatively impacting their flexibility for the future.