The Grizzlies are eyeing soon-to-be free agent Pau Gasol, who said in December that Memphis would be an “appealing” option, but the team would make Gasol a “secondary” priority to re-signing Zach Randolph if Z-Bo opts out, USA Today’s Sam Amick reports. Gasol’s brother Marc Gasol is under contract with Memphis through next season, but it appears the team would prefer to keep its current frontcourt pairing intact rather than seek out a family connection.
Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said last month that he hoped that Randolph would remain with the team long-term. The power forward has voiced frustration with the club this season and remains undecided on his roughly $16.9MM player option, but he said in November that he’d like to retire in Memphis, and as Amick notes, he’s made his affection for Memphis clear on multiple occasions.
Pau Gasol has said a team’s chances of winning will weigh most heavily on his decision in the summer, and while Memphis has been significantly more successful than the Lakers this season and last, the Grizzlies are scrapping for one of the last playoff berths this year. The Lakers, armed with cap room and a lottery pick in June’s draft, have an 80% chance of re-signing Gasol, according to teammate and close friend Kobe Bryant. Still, both Bryant and Gasol would reportedly like to see the Lakers replace coach Mike D’Antoni.
In any case, Gasol seems primed for a drastic cut in pay after making more than $19.2MM this season. If Randolph opts in or re-signs for a salary close to what he’s in line to make in 2014/15 under his current contract, the Grizzlies will have about $65MM in commitments for next season. That means they’d be limited to the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception of $5.305MM for Gasol.