Finally, the NBA lockout is behind us. We no longer have to write speculative pieces, wondering when the season will start and how many games the 2011-12 season will be. We know those answers: December 25, 2011, and 66 games. Now, it's time to get down the business.
The Grizzlies don't have much to do this offseason, with their core essentially locked up. Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conely, all locked up. Tony Allen still has two years on his deal, while O.J. Mayo, while signed, will either remain with the Grizzlies or be used as trade bait, possibly for a shooter who can stretch the floor (please?).
The one name, aka glaring omission, from the paragraph above, however, is Marc Gasol. As we know, Gasol is a restricted free agent and will likely get a number of offers from teams with money, leaving the Grizzlies to ponder whether or not it's in their best interest to match these offers or let him walk. Ummm... Yeah.
Of course the Grizzlies should, and probably will, match any offer for Gasol. With the team short of any cap space and the NBA even shorter-er of any usable big men (No, Dwight Howard is not coming to the Grizzlies), the best course of action is for the Grizzlies to match any offer, or, better yet, make a fair offer to Gasol before it even gets to "that point."
The good news is, they seem to be on their way to locking down Gasol before it gets too late, and they don't seem to be willing to play any games when it comes to getting it done. According to Ronald Tillery:
Locking up Gasol, entering his fourth season, is considered the final move toward solidifying the team's nucleus.
But there doesn't seem to be any reason to fret about Gasol's signing.
The Grizzlies can sign Gasol to a longer contract and pay him more money than any other team. Memphis also has the right to match any offer sheet Gasol signs with another team.
People with knowledge of Heisley's thinking are convinced that the Grizzlies will match any offer sheet Gasol signs with another suitor. Memphis would have three days to match under the proposed collective bargaining agreement.
I don't think there's any case to be made that Gasol should walk, and Heisley is well aware of that. As I said, there's no alternative in the NBA right now, short of wasting money on Tyson Chandler (not going to happen -- can't afford, don't want) or making a trade for Dwight Howard (not going to happen either). You can opt for a lesser big man, like, say, Johan Petro (intriguing, no?) or hope to catch lightning in a bottle by way of the draft, but as you know I'm just wasting space and copy here. We have a franchise center on our team, and there's no reason to even speculate alternatives. The number one bullet point on the Grizzlies checklist is to make this happen.
The end result needs to be: GET GASOL SIGNED.