Would The Memphis Grizzlies Consider Trading Marc Gasol At The Deadline?

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The Memphis Grizzlies are in the midst of a miserable stretch that’s seen them lose 14 of their last 18 games to fall to 19-23 on the season and 14th in the West, only ahead of the lowly Suns.

Last year, Memphis finished with the second worst record in the NBA, only to get the fourth pick of the draft — which it appears they nailed with Jaren Jackson Jr. The hope was that the return of Mike Conley Jr. as well as some additions in free agency would bring the team back into the playoff conversation after just one season in the tank. Early in the season, that appeared to be the case as their defense suffocated opponents and they looked to be among the West’s best eight teams.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case and with every loss Memphis has to start wondering whether the time to hit the reset button in full is coming. The idea had long been that as long as Conley and Marc Gasol were healthy, the Grizzlies could compete for a playoff spot, but that may no longer be the case and a pivot to a future-facing direction could be the best course of action in Memphis. Of course, that’s easier said than done and it’s never fun to tear things down, but it’s also not much fun to watch the Grizzlies as currently constructed either.

The biggest obstacles to a full-on rebuild are their three massive contracts for Gasol, Conley, and Chandler Parsons, who is away from the team right now as they reportedly work on a solution to end his time in Memphis officially. Conley’s contract is massive, but expires after next season and it’s not like he’s a guy that would be detrimental to your team as you shift towards a youth movement — if anything he could be a major help.

Gasol is the bigger question as the deadline looms, as his frustrations have been made clear at various times in the last two seasons and has a player option for $25 million lingering this offseason. It’s long been assumed he would pick up that option, given he’s unlikely to get that money on the free agent market, but as Marc Stein noted on Twitter on Monday night, there are those around the league that believe Gasol is planning to decline his option and become a free agent.

If this is indeed the case, Memphis may feel compelled, as Stein says, to explore trade options over the coming weeks to avoid having their longtime star walk for nothing this summer. It’s important to note this is Stein discussing the possibility of this happening and what he’s heard from some around the league, not actually reporting Gasol has offered that indication to Memphis just yet.

This would be the in-season version of what Paul George and Kawhi Leonard did to effectively force a trade by letting their team know they wouldn’t be re-signing, but with a much shorter window in which to find a deal. If Gasol were to go on the market, there would assuredly be plenty of teams interested in him, even if he’s not quite the same player he was in his prime. He remains an exceptionally talented big man with range to the three-point line (36 percent) and ability in the post. He’s also one of the best passing bigs in the league, averaging 4.6 assists per game. Defensively he’s still very capable, although not as dominant as he once was on that end.

As for teams that figure to be interested in a player like Gasol, the Lakers have to be at the top of the list, although with Anthony Davis rumors a constant they may prefer to stand pat and wait out that possibility. Los Angeles’ other team, the Clippers, also seem like a potential fit given their surprising season and they could see Gasol as a great pairing with Tobias Harris in the frontcourt. The Raptors would be an interesting option as a top contender in the East who could see Gasol as an upgrade for Serge Ibaka, at least in diversifying what they can do offensively.

Overall it’s not real clear who would be a sure-fire team to make a run at Gasol, but he’s so talented that there would assuredly be teams at least probing to see what the Grizzlies would demand for his services. Memphis’ window for making a move is closing rapidly and they’ll have to decide whether they believe this group can turn things around. They have certainly not lost touch with their playoff hopes, but each loss makes it less likely they’ll climb out of this hole.