Marc Gasol has been targeted by essentially every big shopper for the 2012 offseason (whenever that may be). He’s a big, talented, burly center who has touch, vision, is a willing passer, and shoots a ridiculously high percentage. He’s the ultimate complimentary center in a league painfully short on them. Plus, he plays in Memphis, which everyone just kind of assumes a player would want to escape as fast as humanly possible.
But those in that frame of mind are ignorant of a few facts. One, Gasol went to high school in Memphis, and it’s as much a home to him as Spain is. Two, he’ll be a restricted free agent, which means the Grizzlies can match any offer made to Gasol by New York, Oklahoma City, etc. And three, the Grizzlies, despite their history of bungling big transaction points, have no intention of losing Gasol under any circumstances. From CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger:
A league source cognizant of the Grizzlies’ strategy said Memphis intends to “do what it takes” to retain Marc Gasol, a restricted free agent after the season. “He’s the No. 1 priority,” the source said.
Their pattern of approach seems to indicate that’s the case as well. If you notice, they haven’t been aggressive in dealing with last year’s All-Star Zach Randolph, arguably the best player on the team, knowing his age is getting higher and his price will also take its toll. They have not only failed to commit to O.J. Mayo, they’ve sent him to the bench and have questioned him at every turn, leaving many to wonder if Mayo is feeling isolated in Memphis since Lionel Hollins took over. But Gasol? The refrain has been consistent, as has the organization’s commitment to him.
When I spoke to Gasol last week before their game against L.A. , Gasol reiterated that he’d consider playing in Spain in the event of a lockout, but that he loves Memphis. There’s been no indication from front office officials that they’ll even consider losing Gasol, even if that decision means losing Mayo and/or Randolph.
Gasol is one of the premier free agents on the market this summer. But in reality, he’s likely not on the market at all.