NBA Rumor: Marc Gasol Trade?

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Marc Gasol not a lock to return to Lakers

One more Lakers roster note: I’m hearing that Marc Gasol is not a lock to return to the Lakers, even after Gasol said following Spain’s quarterfinal loss to the United States in the Olympics that he intends to play out the final year of the two-year deal he signed with Los Angeles. It’s not yet clear if that means Gasol is poised to be set free to play elsewhere in the NBA or if he would ultimately opt to finish his career in his home country like brother Pau.

In an appearance on the Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne revealed that there was a potential sign-and-trade deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that would have sent not only Caruso, but also Marc Gasol to Minnesota: “[Caruso] had a couple of deals, somewhere around the mid-level. One was a team that didn’t have to do a sign-and-trade, and that was the Bulls, and that was the one he preferred anyway. But I heard the Timberwolves were in on this. It would have been a sign-and-trade, and they actually would have taken back Marc Gasol. Like that could have been salary cap relief for the Lakers, not just a trade exception. So we’ll see if they end up needing those exceptions, we’ll see if they end up needing those extra tools to build this roster out, but I think that’s really where we’re going to decide ‘was the Westbrook trade a success?’”

It would be a disappointing return for Memphis, but interest has been minimal. The Kings and Pistons inquired about Gasol, as reported last month on The Ringer, but there’s no traction on a deal. The Pistons offered a package involving Andre Drummond, who is is owed $55.8 million over the next two seasons, but Memphis didn’t have interest, according to league sources. Memphis wanted Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Kings for Gasol, league sources say, but he isn’t being made available for an aging, expensive center whose individual style doesn’t mesh with the team’s as a whole.

Perhaps of greatest intrigue, the Toronto Raptors have called Memphis offering Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry for both of Conley and Gasol, league sources told Sports Illustrated. Memphis, sources said, would prefer to receive younger players such as OG Anunoby or draft assets in any exchange with Toronto that would send Conley north. The Grizzlies of course rejected Toronto’s initial offer. Lowry has been made aware of Toronto’s negotiations involving him, according to once source close to the All-Star point guard.

On Tuesday night, reports of a potential deal that would send Grizzlies center Marc Gasol to the Hornets heated up, with some combination of wings Malik Monk and/or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the chief return piece for Memphis. But league sources told Sporting News that the Hornets and Grizzlies do not have an agreement in place, and that there is increasing skepticism on both sides that a trade can be brought to bear ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The Hornets have had interest in Gasol for some time, but a deal has not progressed.

In order to potentially tip Memphis away from the Jazz’s offer, which will likely involve Ricky Rubio, a 2019 first-round pick and an assortment of contracts to make the finances match up, Detroit will have to go one step further in the asset department. Jackson and a first-round pick won’t get it done. Rubio’s contract comes off the book next year, so in order for the Grizzlies to be enticed to hold onto Jackson for another year, the Pistons will likely have to add in second-year guard Luke Kennard, who is of interest to Memphis, according to a league source, and the only tangible asset on the roster.

There are a couple of teams to watch specific to Gasol, the top being the Portland Trail Blazers. Sources close to the situation labeled the Blazers as the more likely team to land Gasol if the Grizzlies do a deal, but there was not a sense that anything was close enough to call. Gasol himself has talked about the San Antonio Spurs, and there seems to be some interest on the Spurs’ part in making a deal. But it’s unclear what the Spurs could or would offer to consummate a deal. Gasol has a player option for next season worth $25.5 million.

So far, Gasol is generating more chatter on the market than Conley. The Kings and Pistons have expressed interest, according to multiple league sources. The Grizzlies are trying to make a deal including Chandler Parsons, who signed a four-year, $94.4 million contract with Memphis in 2016 and has managed to play only 73 games due to injuries. Gasol has a player option for next season worth $25.6 million, so including Parsons’s albatross contract will be complicated financially.

It’s been a tumultuous week for Conley and Gasol. Grizzlies owner Robert Pera called them on Tuesday with news that the Grizzlies had decided to put them on the trade block. Afterward, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski made the trade news public on Twitter. Conley appreciates that he heard the news from Pera rather than Twitter, but it hasn’t made this week easier to navigate. He and Gasol have had to answer questions about a trade situation they didn’t ask for and has no clear timeframe or resolution. They’ve been tasked with eulogizing an era that has yet to come to a close. “During the game you’re not so much caught up into that, until you finish and you look up like, ‘what if that was it,” Conley said after Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets. “It’s tough to look back and think of all the memories we’ve had. It’s been a long ride, and a successful one at that.”

The Memphis Grizzlies may be ready to start rebuilding, listening to trade offers for the NBA’s longest-tenured teammates. Guard Mike Conley said Grizzlies owner Robert Pera had told both he and center Marc Gasol on Tuesday that they will be mentioned in potential trade talks. Pera “called me just to make me aware that they were going to go about doing this,” Conley said after Wednesday’s shoot-around before their game against the Charlotte Hornets. “Outside of that, I haven’t really thought about it or heard much about it.”

Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff says he has received no directives from the front office on playing limitations or how to use Conley and Gasol in the weeks before the trade deadline. “It’s obviously a distraction. It’s obviously on people’s minds,” Bickerstaff said. “But the only way we can handle it is by paying attention to what’s important now. We have no control over tomorrow. We don’t have any control over what happened yesterday. .We can’t waste energy on the what ifs, the possibilities.”

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are available. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported tonight that the Grizzlies would explore the trade market for each player ahead of the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline, and this was subsequently confirmed to The Daily Memphian by a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. It doesn’t mean that a trade for either (much less both) will happen in the next couple of weeks, but what was almost certainly already a possibility now becoming so transparently public probably makes it more likely.

Do you want to be traded? Marc Gasol: I’ve said it before, that’s just not the way I operate. The way I’m wired, that’s not what I would expect of somebody who’s trying to win games with me. If I had another teammate next to me telling me ‘I want out!’, I don’t know. I think in moments like this, MLK Day, where your true character shows what you stand for, and I stand for the guys next to me. So I don’t know. Maybe (the organization is) waiting for that to happen. Maybe they don’t want to do it, maybe they say, ‘We’re not going to do it, maybe you should ask for it.’ I honestly don’t know. I have no clue what it is. But I’m not wired that way, I’m not a quitter. I can’t, in the heat of the battle, just say, ‘All right, take care.’ That’s just —

Marc Gasol: I don’t know. I don’t know what might happen. What needs to happen, I don’t know. Obviously, I have people asking me, ‘Is it going to be you?’ Maybe. Shit, if it needs to be, it needs to be. There’s not going to be any hard feelings. It’s not going to change how I feel about this city, for God’s sakes, it wouldn’t change that for a second. It can’t take anything away. I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I feel like the luckiest man in the world because I was put in this position to lead this franchise as one of the main guys for so many years. I’ll forever be thankful for that. That’s not going to change regardless of what happens.

If not traded, do you think Marc opts in after this season, and if he opts out, does he leave or sign elsewhere? Chris Herrington: I hinted around this in my Gasol piece, but I’ll say it plainly here: My bet is that Gasol is not traded before the deadline but does end up leaving in the summer. I think he opts out and either leaves in free agency or via a sign-and-trade. I am not hugely confident in that assessment. I’d put it at about 60 percent right now. If Gasol’s game is going to transition into a lesser role, I think he’d prefer to do so on a team with a clearer path to contention than the Grizzlies will have in the near-term. And I’m not convinced the Grizzlies really want to offer a multi-year extension, even at a far-reduced salary, for what I think they must now see needs to be a rebuild. But I know at least a couple of people whose guesses are as educated as mine who tilt the other way, who think Gasol is more likely to be back. That maybe he cares about his connection to the franchise and city too much. That maybe he doesn’t want to disrupt his life — off the floor as much as on it — that much.

“I don’t think we know exactly where the future is headed right now,” Gasol told The Commercial Appeal. “Obviously, you’re a player, so you need to play and you need to win games. You cannot get caught up in what’s the future of the franchise. What are they going to do? What’s this guy going to do? You can’t do that because then you forget about what’s the most important thing to do and even though no player likes to be in that situation, you have to deal with it. It’s the way it goes. It’s just the nature of the beast. There’s nothing you can do.”

Marc Gasol said he will have questions about the direction of the team after the offseason. How will you reassure him that Memphis remains the best fit for him at this stage of his career? Chris Wallace: Marc is having a terrific career here, both individually – being a multiple All-Star, being defensive player of the year, the All-NBA recognition. And he’s had tremendous team success. So, I don’t think one off year from the team success side tarnishes what he’s achieved or necessarily is going to be the norm going forward for the Grizzlies. This happens to all sorts of teams, where you have not as good a year as where you expect to be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t jump right back in and be successful again next year and that’s what our goal is. And he’s a big part of that.

“It got to a point where I felt like I needed to be somewhere else to have a chance to win and be in a franchise that provided me with more consistency, and a shot at winning a championship,” said Pau Gasol, a two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. “That’s what I wanted at the time. I was 27 years old. Marc Gasol is at a different stage. Marc has enjoyed the best years of the franchise. They had very good teams. They’ve consistently been a competitive team. Right now, they’re going through a lot of changing with maybe some questionable decisions upstairs. … It’s been a hard year. No question. Marc is a great professional. He gets upset, but he knows he has to just go out and play.”

This is how Gasol’s prime years could end. The Grizzlies have shown no interest in trading him, and Gasol has no leverage until 2019, when he can opt out of the final year of his contract — and leave $25.6 million on the table. Will he? Gasol sounded plenty frustrated on Tuesday, when local reporters got a crack at him. Asked to describe his frustration level, Gasol said, “It’s pretty high.” Later, Gasol added that “winning is what this is about. It’s not about somebody playing well or getting your reps or developing players. We have a league [the G League] for that. We have a team here in Memphis to develop guys. This is the NBA, not the [G] League.”
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