But with the Grizzlies (19-24) slipping to 14th in the West and Gasol holding a $25,595,700 player option for next season, maybe both sides are approaching a breaking point.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
I doubt Gasol, who’ll turn 34 this month, would draw a higher salary in free agency than his $25,595,700 player option. But maybe he could get a multi-year deal that provides more overall compensation than he’d get opting in then testing free agency at age 35.
He also might value getting to a better team.
The Grizzlies appeared intent on winning as much as possible with Gasol and Mike Conley rather than rebuilding. So, there seemed to be enough overlap in vision between the organization and Gasol.
But Memphis also just hit on its 2018 lottery pick, drafting Jaren Jackson Jr. No. 4. Jackson could be the Grizzlies’ next franchise player and convince them to shift gears. A core led by Jackson and whatever assets are acquired for Gasol could have a nice future. Ditto if Memphis also trades Conley, who’d make less sense on the team sans Gasol.
Remaining competitive with Gasol and Conley isn’t the worst place to be. The Grizzlies already have a major future building block in Jackson. They can groom him while winning enough to keep fans entertained. But that plan would fall apart if Gasol opts out and leaves.
So, being proactive could make sense.
The first step should be assessing Gasol’s commitment to Memphis. If he already knows he wants to leave next summer, I doubt he’d mind getting traded elsewhere now. An honest conversation about the future could serve everyone well.