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The Memphis Grizzlies have no current plans to trade center Marc Gasol or point guard Mike Conley and will not shift into rebuild mode, general manager Chris Wallace told ESPN Wednesday evening.
The franchise sent shockwaves through NBA circles this week with the firing of head coach David Fizdale and executives around the league began to wonder if Gasol would become available on the trade market.
Memphis is not shopping the former Defensive Player of the Year, however, and have rebuffed all trade inquiries.
“We have no intention to trade Marc,” Wallace told ESPN. “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.”
Fizdale was fired after just one full season with the Grizzlies and he reportedly had a complex and strained relationship with Gasol. Fizdale benched Gasol in the fourth quarter during Sunday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets and Gasol wasn’t happy when he spoke to reporters about the situation in the postgame locker room.
Wallace confirmed at a Tuesday press conference that Gasol and Fizdale weren’t on the same page during their time together.
“There was tension between the two,” Wallace said Tuesday. “This is a factor but it’s not the overriding factor. We talked to Marc in real time about the same time we talked to Coach Fizdale.”
The Grizzlies have lost nine in a row and appear to be in an endless freefall. With an old roster that doesn’t figure to contend in the rugged Western Conference, some think Memphis should blow it up and start a proper rebuild.
Wallace isn’t one of them.
“We’re full speed ahead,” Wallace said. “We’ve been in the playoffs seven years in a row. We’ve got a team when fully healthy and we get everything together is more athletic, more versatile and more potent offensively than we’ve had for a number of years. Even though the going has been a little difficult early, there’s still 62 [games] to play. We believe in this team. We’re hoping — got our fingers crossed — that we’ll get everybody healthy soon. Our expectation always is to be a playoff team and have a chance to do some things when we get in there. We’re behind in the standings right now, but it’s a long way to go. When we get our guys back, I think we’ll surge.”
The Grizzlies have sorely missed Conley, who continues to be out with left heel and Achilles soreness. He’s expected to return in two to three weeks. The team is 0-7 since he’s been out.
Wallace could be right. Memphis might turn their season around once Conley returns and grab a low seed playoff spot.
The lack of direction, however, would continue for Memphis, as being stuck in mediocrity is the worst place to be in sports. Moving Gasol, a three-time All-Star, and getting some valuable assets in return could jump start the Grizzlies’ rebuild and help them construct for the future now instead of later.