Sorry shoppers, Marc Gasol is probably not on the market

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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.

via Kobe passing on labor talks, but not before taking shots at owners – NBA – CBSSports.com Basketball.

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.

 

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?