Unlike a lot of teams this offseason, the Memphis Grizzlies were never in danger of losing their prized big man Marc Gasol to a bigger market or a championship contender. The Spanish center’s affinity for the ramshackle home of the blues (and the unofficial epicenter of pro wrestling) runs too deep for that. Gasol has spent nearly half his life in Memphis (he went to high school at Lausanne), and what’s more, rarely has a team’s on-court identity so closely mirrored that of its hardscrabble fan base.
He didn’t bother taking any meetings with would-be suitors and publicly shunned the Lakers following their treatment of his brother Pau. So it came as no surprise today when Gasol reportedly agreed to a mammoth five-year, $110 million contract with the only team and town he’s known during his stellar career. Here’s more from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
“The deal includes an early-termination option after the fourth year in 2018-19, league sources said.
Gasol met with Grizzlies owner Robert Pera in Spain last Wednesday, and progressed toward a final agreement over the next several days, sources said.
Gasol, 30, never seriously considered leaving the Grizzlies. He attended high school in Memphis while his older brother, Pau, played for the Grizzlies, and has spent all seven seasons of his NBA career with Memphis.”
A perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Gasol has anchored the Grizzlies’ stifling defense during five straight postseason runs and has emerged as one of the best two-way centers in the NBA. Re-signing with the Grizzlies is a wise decision, even though the roster with the way it’s currently assembled isn’t poised for a championship run until they can add some key scoring punch.
Still, amidst all of the free agency hoopla, it’s refreshing to see a player make a decision based on loyalty and camaraderie without all the pomp and circumstance that so many superstar players indulge in during this process. If the Grizzlies ever do win that elusive title, it’ll make it that much sweeter.
(via Yahoo Sports)