When You Grew Up On Marc Gasol, It's Hard To Consider Him Not Being Here
Stop with the theoretical Marc Gasol trades. Just Stop.
I don’t want to hear them, see them, or even consider them. Maybe that’s ignorance on my end. Maybe it's my youth. Maybe it’s me not being objective. Maybe it’s the 13-year-old Grizzlies fan in me that remembers the playoff runs. Whatever it is, they all make me wonder the same thing… why would you want to get rid of Gasol? It’s not that I don’t know why because I do. Possible assets, cap space, or “getting something for him before he leaves.” I know why the conversation comes up; I just don’t accept it. Sure, there’s obvious value and he isn’t getting any younger, but, come on guys, it’s Marc we’re talking about. Being that I'm only turning 16 this year, I was only 6 years old when Marc first came to the Grizzlies so I truly have no idea what the Grizzlies did, or could look like without him.
I saw the same thing on the court last season everyone else saw. Marc’s first time fully leading the team by himself was not very impressive. Before this season, he never played large stretches of time without another member of the Core Four. It went pretty well in December of 2016 when Mike Conley went down with a freak back injury, but he had Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Troy Daniels (let my love of Troy Daniels remain ablaze) alongside him to help. This time who was there to help him win? This year’s roster was truly more awful than many people realized before it was too late: unproven young guys behind (this pains to admit it) two injury-prone guys with career losers filling up the other spots.
After seeing on obvious decline in play and production, Gasol still played the same amount of minutes that he pretty much always has. We saw what it looks like when he carries the team on his back by himself for an extended period of time and it’s not the best. It’s not a slight on him, it’s not a slight on anyone. It just shows how much Mike Conley makes Marc better and the team as a whole. It’s a statistic that can’t be fully measured: an individual's impact to another individual.
Marc Gasol is due $24,119,025 during the 2018-19 season. Before next July’s free agency, he will have an opportunity to opt out of his guaranteed $25,595,700 due for the 2019-20 season (salary figures provided by Spotrac.com) . He can opt in for a few reasons.
He may not feel the market favors him in a Free Agency class that will feature a presumably healthy DeMarcus Cousins, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kemba Walker, Deandre Jordan, and many more marquee names. He’s on the wrong side of 32, so that may scare a few teams from a deal that would be worth it.
Maybe the place where he grew up, watched his brother play, went to high school, played his entire NBA career, where he lives during the season, where he raises his kids might just be a little too hard to leave. Maybe he’s just happy. In an interview over the summer with Robert Alvarez and Spanish media outlet El Pais, Gasol said, “I’m lucky to have a very good relationship with the owner. We are honest with each other, very sincere. We speak the same language, in that regard. We know each other very well, and we have a close relationship.”
Of course, everything can’t be sunshine and roses. Marc is a fierce competitor and this past season did nothing but tick him off, teach him unwanted patience, and waste a year of his career. There are understandable concerns that maybe he is second guessing being a part of the Grizzlies organization. These concerns could point to why he could opt out.
As mentioned above, he wants to win and maybe he feels that leaving Memphis would be worth it if it meant he would win. In the same interview with Robert Alvarez and El Pais, he says, “My conflict is between my desire to win and my loyalty to Memphis. Memphis believes that I am part of the solution, not the problem. It was part of a learning experience. When looking for a change, you need to find the cause. It occurred in a way that maybe was not the desired one. Thinking about it now, I would have acted differently, but I remain calm. In the end, a business of so many millions of dollars is not decided by one player. The relationship between a player and a coach was not the best in the world…you are right.”
Maybe it’s a Dirk Nowitzki situation where he may realize that to get the free agents needed, that the money has to come from somewhere, so maybe he takes a discount. Maybe he simply doesn’t to leave, and he has his deal restructured for more years with more or less money.
With Marc Gasol and the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies organization, there are a lot of maybes being asked. Maybe if we’re healthy, maybe the schedule works out in our favor, maybe the young guys blossom and develop… maybe this is the last season with Gasol. Do I think it will come to that? No, but it’s always a possibility. A lot can happen in a year.