The Raptors are growing increasingly intrigued by Marc Gasol, according to Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail (hat tip to TNT’s David Aldridge). That’s not altogether surprising, since the No. 3 player in the latest Hoops Rumors 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings has been putting up career numbers in Memphis and looms as a seismic figure on next summer’s market. It’s unclear whether Toronto regards him as a free agent target or a possible trade acquisition, though Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger suggested this weekend that the Grizzlies, at 19-4, have no intention to make any moves for the time being. Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace has made it clear that re-signing Gasol is the first priority for the team.
Kelly identifies a dominating inside presence as Toronto’s most prominent need, though the team had placed high hopes in center Jonas Valanciunas, who’s in only his third NBA season after the Raptors drafted him fifth overall in 2011. Bryan Colangelo was in charge of basketball operations for the Raptors when they selected Valanciunas, and the interest in Gasol seems like a subtle hint that current GM Masai Ujiri isn’t as high on the ability of Valanciunas to develop into an elite center, though that’s just my speculation.
The Knicks are reportedly pessimistic about their chances to land Gasol, who’s said that he places a high value on playing for a winning club. Speculation has linked the Spurs to Gasol, but only if Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili retire. The Raptors are atop the Eastern Conference with an 18-6 record. Still, they have more than $49MM committed to nine players for next season, so accommodating the max contract that the Arn Tellem client would surely command next summer beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap would be difficult.