I want to preface this article by saying that the content you are about to read is mostly hypothetical. There are very few, if any, rumors that are considering the trade of Marc Gasol. It is not out of the question to consider moving him, I am going to present a few ideas, but there’s no substantial evidence that indicates the Grizzlies are taking calls about him.
Let’s start by breaking down Marc Gasol’s current contract. He was signed to a five-year max deal in 2015, $110 million to keep him until 2020. He made just over $21 million this season, and that number will increase every year until his final season when he will make $25.5 million.
He is contracted to make $22 million in the third season of his deal for the 2017-18 season, when he will be 32 years old.
Gasol is a three-time All-Star and a former Defensive Player of the Year award winner, easily the most decorated Grizzly of all time. He is arguably the best Grizzlies player ever, and has been for the past few years. With the emergence of Mike Conley as a truly elite point guard and young pieces slowly coming together around him, Gasol hasn’t had to control both ends of the floor nearly as much.
With all that said, there were times this season when he looked...off. His interest seemed to lack, his body language was poor, and his on-court decisions became too passive. Maybe I’m overthinking his play, maybe I’m overreacting in my criticism of him, but I expect a lot from a franchise player with his pedigree.
He had great moments this year, but there’s a market for his contract and ability.
Any team that would consider making a deal for him would be taking on a huge contract, but for a player in his prime. His stats this past season were 19.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.6 APG. Those are solid numbers for anyone, and that’s not even mentioning his 39% shooting from the 3-point line. His talent and basketball IQ are not in question. The effort and decision making are his biggest downfalls.
But quality centers capable of shooting long range jumpers and making free throws are in high demand. The style of basketball is changing in the NBA. No longer are the Dwight Howards of the world the most valuable types of centers. Marc Gasol is a hot commodity.
Based on the contracts of last year, there are only two teams that have positive cap space for this summer, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Both of those teams have centers that are solid players and also don’t have super promising pieces that the Grizzlies would be open to obtaining in exchange for Gasol.
Ideally, Gasol would attract teams with young talent, but the problem with that is that the Grizzlies would need to get a center in exchange. There aren’t many promising young centers.
I’ll throw out a crazy thought, a trade deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The beauty of that exchange is that Ricky Rubio (a solid back-up point guard behind Conley perhaps) is the highest paid player on that team at $13 million. Karl-Anthony Towns sweetens that deal with two years left on the three-year $17 million deal. Minnesota is building a solid team with great young talent, and KAT is arguably the best young player in the NBA, so it’s hard to imagine them busting that up with a trade like this. But hey, it’s still entertaining to consider.
There are other options like the Indiana Pacers. The young Myles Turner has been nice the last two years, though he folded against the Cavaliers in this year’s playoffs. The Pacers don’t have much else to offer which could be okay. Freeing up cap space by signing one player with a few draft picks can get the Grizzlies some much needed space to work with in this year’s free agency.
Like I mentioned before, if you look to trade Gasol you have to find someone to fill his position. If you don’t get a center in a trade, that puts Deyonta Davis or Brandan Wright as the starting center. That just doesn’t sound like the best option.
The New Orleans Pelicans have two elite centers; trading for one of them not named Demarcus Cousins could also be interesting. Gasol and Anthony Davis have essentially the same contracts, but he gives the Grizzlies a younger, more athletic center. I’m not sure the Pelicans do that deal either (they don't), but it calls to question the exact issue with trading Marc - what exactly is his value? Is he worth a team parting with another superstar? Probably not. The Turner idea - a young player with promise but not at Gasol’s level (yet) feels closer to right.
I also like the idea of obtaining some trash for Gasol to clear up cap space. Teams like the Chicago Bulls have some shiny trash to offer: Robin Lopez to fill the center position and then any other three no-name players they have.
Just go take a look at this summer’s free agents. The top two are Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
Memphis won’t land those guys. They won’t land anyone in the top 10, or likely even the top 20. But point guards and shooters are out there that don’t demand a lot of cash and can contribute instantly. Here are a few examples: Patty Mills, Jeff Teague, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Korver, and Shaun Livingston. The list goes on.
These players aren’t max contract players, and clearing up $15 million from a Gasol trade could ripple into some very beneficial assets.
Again, there is no evidence that any of this could happen, but it’s something to think about.