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After the Memphis Grizzlies sent shockwaves through NBA circles yesterday with the firing of head coach David Fizdale, executives around the league began to wonder if star big man Marc Gasol would become available on the trade market.
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 and spoke to reporters about the situation in the postgame locker room.
“If I start venting, that would be counterproductive,” Gasol told reporters. “But at the end of the day, I’m as competitive as anybody. I hate not playing, that’s what I value most. If I’m not out there, I’m not valued. I’m sure they knew that would hurt me the most.
“I mean, anyone wouldn’t like it, right? You don’t put Mike [Conley] back in? I’m sure they wouldn’t do it to Mike. I don’t know. It’s just the way it is. You have to deal with it. But I’m not just gonna lay down and take it. I don’t like it one bit. I’m more (angry) and frustrated than I can ever show. But for the benefit of the team, I have to show good leadership and continue to do my job.”
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace confirmed today at a press conference that Gasol and Fizdale weren’t on the same page during their time together.
“There was tension between the two,” Wallace said. “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 eight 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.
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.
Teams have been reaching out to the Grizzlies and offering packages for Gasol ever since Fizdale was let go, but Memphis is not shopping the former Defensive Player of the Year currently and have rebuffed all trade inquiries — according to a report by The Vertical.
Gasol, 32, is making $22.6 million this season and is owed $24.1 million next year. He can become a free agent in 2019, as he possesses a player option.
The 32-year-old Spaniard is one of the best centers in the game still. Gasol enters today averaging 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 41.8 percent from the field.
It is unknown which teams have shown interest in trading for Gasol, but it’s safe to assume the Toronto Raptors were among the clubs that contacted the Grizzlies. Reports claim the Raptors are open to moving center Jonas Valanciunas and they have young players the Grizzlies might be interested in pursuing.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who own the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick, have not expressed interest in Gasol as of yet, sources tell AmicoHoops.
The Grizzlies could turn their season around once point guard Mike Conley returns and maybe 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.
So for now, Memphis will likely hold onto Gasol and hope the club will get going again soon. But if the losing and dysfunction continues, the Grizzlies’ brass has to make the tough decision to move Gasol for some young players and resources.