Report: Knicks realize they likely strikeout with Marc Gasol this summer, will try anyway

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Marc Gasol has slimmed down and is having a career year so far, an MVP-like season — 19.8 points a game on 50.4 percent shooting, plus is pulling down 8.2 rebounds a game. He has a PER of 23.2 and is the rim protector and anchor on the fourth best defense in the NBA. He has been the best center in the game and the Grizzlies are off to a 15-4 start.

He’s doing all that in a contract year — Gasol will be a free agent this summer.

Which means teams are lining up to take a shot at landing him, including the New York Knicks who rightfully think he’d be a perfect big man fit in the triangle offense.

But the Knicks realize that they are likely going to strikeout with this quest, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post (hat tip Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball).

As the Knicks plummet to the bottom of the league, a source told The Post the club doesn’t believe its chances are too good of landing the Grizzlies stud center with their 2015 cap space — not that Knicks president Phil Jackson won’t try like mad….

The Knicks’ lone edge is Gasol is best friends with point guard Jose Calderon, his teammate on Spain’s national team.

While the Knicks, who lost 90-87 to the Cavaliers Thursday night at the Garden, were confident they would land LeBron James entering 2010 free agency, they realize the odds are against them for Gasol. If he leaves Memphis, he likely will choose a title contender, not the woebegone Knicks.

The general sense around the league right now is that Marc Gasol isn’t going anywhere — Gasol is a max player, Grizzlies can and will offer the most money (an extra guaranteed year and larger raises). Money talks. In addition he’s in a city he likes and is comfortable with, plays in a system he both likes and is the focal point of, and he is playing on a team that’s a potential contender (although I think they need a little more shooting and depth).

If he does leave, the most interesting option would be the San Antonio Spurs, who reportedly covet Gasol as a replacement for Tim Duncan should The Big Fundamental decide to retire after this season (a distinct possibility). The Spurs would have the money for a max offer (four years) and the lure of playing in that system for Gregg Popovich would be strong.

Marc’s brother Pau Gasol said that Marc signing with the Knicks was “possible.” They should at least try. We know that the Lakers and just about every other team with cap space this summer are going to make calls to Marc and his agent come July 1 when free agency opens. He will have options and plenty of suitors if he wants to be courted (ala Carmelo Anthony). So far Marc himself has refused to discuss his pending free agency, which always fuels speculation because the internet abhors a vacuum.

But next year expect to see Gasol wearing the same uniform he’s wearing now. It’s all about the money.