ESPN.com reports that there’s a high amount of skepticism around the league regarding Marc Gasol’s availability in restricted free agency outside of Memphis. In short, the Grizzlies have every intention of matching any offer for the young stud center.
Gasol is not the biggest name on the Grizzlies, with Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and even Tony Allen, even, but he’s the core of their success. It’s his defense, passing out of the pinch post, and rebounding that provides the backbone of what the Grizzlies do. Behind Nene and Tyson Chandler, he’s the third best center in the market, and given his age and upside, might be the best overall value. There have been questions about if Michael Heisley would really come through on his word to pay for a contender if the Grizzlies made the playoffs last year. During their spectacular run, he granted Zach Randolph a long extension, after having given Gay and Conley similar deals in the past six months.
But it would all be for naught if he doesn’t do the same with Gasol. Locking in Gasol means the Grizzlies have their core for the next three years at least, assuming that ideas surrounding how Rudy Gay fits with the club are insane. On December 9th, Gasol is rumored to be hearing max offers from multiple teams, but the Grizzlies will likely match. Unlike with Mike Conley, who they gave an early extension to before he could hit the market and wound up getting a quality deal on him, Gasol was not eligible for an extension until after the season. As a result, the Grizzlies will let him take his offers from other teams, match within the new three-day waiting period, Gasol returns to Memphis, which he enjoys living in (more so than brother Pau did), and the Grizzlies will make another run.
Maybe last year was smoke and mirrors, but you have to say this. All signs point to Michael Heisley putting his money where his mouth is.