Storyline: Marc Gasol Trade?

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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.”

But if the situation changes not because the team decides it wants to change its goal, but because the goal is changed for them, because of the record, does that change your attitude about wanting to be here? Marc Gasol: My approach to the game will not change. Q: Your approach to your status on the team going forward? Marc Gasol: Correct. That won’t change. But, obviously, if they decide to go a different direction…I’ve said it before, I’ll do anything. I’ll make everybody look good. I’ll say to you guys whatever I need to say if I need to go anywhere else and they need to [pursue] a goal where I’m not the guy.

Everybody who was in the room for Gasol’s holding of court will take different points of emphasis from it. (Side note: The frequent suggestions that Gasol characterized letting Zach Randolph and Tony Allen walk as a mistake is not quite accurate in my interpretation.) But here’s a quote that struck me that I haven’t seen highlighted elsewhere, another peek into how Gasol experiences the game and conceives his commitment to the city: Marc Gasol: I was lucky enough to be a fan before I was a player, and be a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies. People see themselves through players. My job is to show the new guys how important that is.

Michael Lee on Marc Gasol potentially being available: “I think he could resurface [in trade rumors]. I’ve seen situations before where teams have fired their coach thinking that was the issue and that’s what was holding the team back, but then they quickly realize that there are other issues that need to be addressed, and I think you’re seeing that now with the Grizzlies. [David] Fizdale wasn’t the problem, there are a lot of other problems with that squad. As they continue to lose, Marc Gasol isn’t going to be happy. As long the team is taking their lumps every night, he’s going to be miserable. As the deadline gets closer, he may go ahead and tell the organization to go ahead and get something for him. He’s 33 and the team isn’t going anywhere with him, so you might as well see what you can get and move forward without him… If you’re the Memphis Grizzlies, I think you really have to look at your future and realize that if you want to go anywhere, moving Gasol is probably the best way to get started. They have to do what’s best for the organization and I think Marc Gasol would be very open to go to a situation where he can win, especially if things have already dried up in Memphis.”

What are the chances that Memphis will opt for the mega blow-up and move Mike Conley along with Gasol. As a Nuggets fan, he is my dream point guard, to pair with Jokic and Milsap. Is Jamal Murray, a first, and anyone not named Jokic, Milsap, or Harris enough to get Conley? David Aldridge: Well, you can’t ask a team for its best player and give them your third or fourth-best player, Phil. Memphis is going to ride Conley and Gasol for the foreseeable future, but if the Grizzlies were to talk trade with Denver, it would almost certainly have to include Harris or Jokic as part of a package for Conley — and the Nuggets, almost certainly, would pass.

There’s a lot of chatter about trades – whether you ask for one or the Grizzlies trade you. What are your thoughts about trade scenarios? Marc Gasol: It doesn’t help me today. It doesn’t help me with my responsibility to the team. If I’m thinking about my situation, then I’m not focused on finding ways to be more effective and more efficient on the floor. I want to improve my communication with the guys and show that I’m there for them. That’s all I can worry about. The talk outside – even when it’s good – I don’t worry about. My reality and my day-to-day is never about the outside chatter. It won’t affect my job.

Are you on board with rebuilding? Marc Gasol: I’m on board with doing my job every day until that’s not my job anymore. Nobody has told me we’re rebuilding. Nobody has said that to me. We’re trying to get better. Obviously, It’s not the easiest or most comfortable situation for us. We’re not where we want to be as a team. That’s the result of a lot things that’s happened. But those things can’t be changed. All you can do is change what you today. All of the other stuff… I can’t control what you think. I can’t control what you say. I can’t control your vision. I can only do what I need to do.

Has your brother, Pau, advised you in this situation? Marc Gasol: Every situation is different. Everybody is different. At the time, (Pau asking for a trade) was the right thing to do for him when things were bad. We’re different players. We came up with the same rules in the household but we view certain things differently. I’m 10 years in, and he respects and values my opinion. He just wants me to be happy. He knows why I re-signed with the Grizzlies and why I’m here. There’s advice that you can give at some point but I haven’t asked for that.
5 months ago via ESPN

If the team came to him with a trade, Gasol would accept it. “If they think it is best, I would do anything for this franchise,” Gasol says. Wallace and other higher-ups are adamant that is unlikely, even as the losses mount. That seems stubborn, and there is almost certainly a scenario — perhaps Conley getting reinjured, or taking longer than expected to return — where Memphis tests the market. But even in that doomsday sequence, the Grizzlies may even prefer to hold their stars out here and there in some selective tankery, nab a high draft pick, and reload for another run at 45-plus wins.
5 months ago via ESPN

It is not bad enough for Gasol to ask out. It may never be. “I have a responsibility to this city,” Gasol says. “I’m not gonna quit, no matter what.” What if Memphis fell 30 games under .500? Gasol shakes his head. “I would want to see how we got there — what the process is,” Gasol says. “But as long as [owner] Robert [Pera] wants me here, my teammates want me here, they think I’m part of the solution — and not part of the problem — that’s all I need.” (Gasol still denies he asked for Fizdale to be fired, though the tension between them was real, sources say.)

But could Gasol be traded? Yes, if he decides to ask the team for a trade. That’s why the Grizzlies ultimately traded Gasol’s brother, Pau, back in 2008. Pau Gasol had led the Grizzlies on a three-year playoff run but it was apparent that era was over. The Grizzlies were 13-33 and going nowhere fast. Beyond that, Pau was no longer appreciated by Grizzlies fans, who wanted him to be something other than the immensely skilled — but not especially tough — low-post scorer that he’d always been, and that will ultimately earn him an invitation to the Hall of Fame.
6 months ago via ESPN

Grizz not trading Gasol, Conley?

“We have no intention to trade Marc,” Wallace told ESPN when asked if the franchise might consider dealing the 32-year-old big man. “We never seriously considered that at all. We never placed any calls to any teams in that regard. So that’s not happening. “It’s not just Marc that this whole equation is about. It’s also Mike Conley, when he comes back. We’ve got two guys among the elite in the league at their respective positions that are still very much in their window with an awful lot of tread left on their tires.”
6 months ago via ESPN

Gasol appreciated the commitment from Memphis management but said he can’t worry about things that are out of his control and understands that plans can change in the NBA. “You know how brutal and how the reality is in the NBA and how much things can change fast, so you’ve got to really do the most and get the most out of every minute that you’re able to,” Gasol said. “Obviously, you appreciate the confidence and the trust that they’re showing in myself and Mike, because maybe the next step once you try to fix it by replacing the head coach, then it’s your big guns, try to change them too. That may be the natural step, but they’re sticking with us.

Among the teams that could make a move for Marc Gasol are Toronto, Cleveland, Boston, and Portland. The Celtics and Cavaliers are seen as the class of the East, with Toronto a notch below. That could set up a potential bidding war that Memphis could use to its advantage in landing the best package for Gasol, 32, a former defensive player of the year. Industry sources tell me that the Raptors are open to moving center Jonas Valanciunas and have young players the Griz might be interested in pursuing, including Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira. Gasol would be a marked upgrade for a “now” team that needs to get to a finals with core stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

The Cavs have been linked in recent days to the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, another defensive big and who would help shore up that end of the floor. Like every other big man who’s name comes up in trade talks, they’ll be mentioned with Gasol. The trade pieces would revolve around Tristan Thompson, along with Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye. They own Brooklyn’s No. 1 pick in June’s draft, but aren’t expected to part with that because LeBron James could leave at season’s end and they’ll need the pick to rebuild.

There was a him-or-me dynamic on Sunday night [between head coach David Fizdale and star Marc Gasol], [and] the Grizzlies fearing a public trade demand by Gasol on one side or firing Fizdale, a promising young coach, after just 101 games on the other. Memphis chose “him” and fired Fizdale, which presumably means the franchise is standing by Gasol into the future. But nothing should be presumed when it comes to the way the Grizzlies handle their front office and coaching staff.

That’s a different angle through which the Fizdale firing can be viewed — not just as a choice between Fizdale or Gasol, but as a way to protect one of the franchise’s two biggest assets. Two other league sources agreed that Marc Gasol still could be trade bait. When a player demands a trade in a public forum, two things almost always happen — and the combination is a nightmare for the franchise. One, the player winds up getting dealt; and two, the player’s value plummets because executives looking to make a deal know they’re dealing with a desperate team.

But the issues that were in place before Fizdale was fired in Memphis remain, and this might only worsen them. Fizdale had a lot of support among Memphis’ younger players, and the irony of firing him before trading Gasol is that he is exactly the kind of coach you’d want to lead a rebuilding effort — positive, a good teacher, innovative in his approach, tough when he needs to be. The Grizzlies just fired the coach they’d want to hire after a Gasol trade before they made a Gasol trade.

The situation teeters on the edge of outright disaster for Memphis, which owes its 2019 first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics and has Conley, Gasol and Chandler Parsons locked up on max deals through that spring. Team sources indicated to CBS Sports this summer that Gasol was considered “untouchable” in trade talks. A source indicated Monday that the decision to fire Fizdale in light of his conflict with Gasol is an indication that the team’s position has not changed on that matter.

Gasol provided reassurance and revealed that he regularly talks to team majority owner Robert Pera. Gasol also revealed that he suffered a mild ankle sprain near the end of EuroBasket. The injury isn’t serious. “My body feels really good,” Gasol said. “It was a freak accident. A guy dived for the ball and landed on my leg. It was kind of a sprain on my left ankle but it’s fine. For 15-20 minutes, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to play but it worked out great.”

That probably depends on who is available. The trade market for stars has momentarily dried up. One player worth keeping an eye on, two league executives told The Vertical: Memphis’ Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph, Tony Allen could be next out the door, and if you were filling out your Western Conference playoff bracket today, Memphis probably wouldn’t be in it. Would the Grizz move the 32-year-old Gasol for a ready-made rebuilding package of players and picks? Would Boston – which has to be wary of putting together a team that would beat Cleveland but still get pulverized by Golden State – be interested? Again, worth watching.
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May 20, 2018 | 6:58 pm EDT Update