Western Notes: Gasol, Parker, Nuggets

Marc Gasol becomes eligible for a veteran extension next week, though it’s unlikely he’ll sign one, since free agency would be a much more lucrative proposition. Regardless, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace is vowing to retain his star center, as he tells Billy Witz of The New York Times.

“Speculation really is not a concern of mine,” Wallace said. “The whole free-agency period is a long way off, but what we’ve obviously made known to him is, the first priority of the organization is to keep him. He’s extremely important to us, and we’re going to get him re-signed one way or another, regardless of when that occurs.”

The team’s track record of keeping its core players and Gasol’s ties to Memphis fuel Wallace’s confidence, as Witz notes, and there’s more from his piece on the No. 4 man in our 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings amid the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Just how strongly the team commits to winning will be the top consideration for Gasol as he decides whether to re-sign, as he tells Witz for the same piece. “That’s going to be huge for me,” Gasol said. “Because you’ve got to go to work every day and feel good about it, knowing that everyone is seeing the big picture, which is having the biggest chance to win a championship.”
  • Faith in the front office is a key for Tony Parker, too, coming off a summer in which he signed a three-year max extension with the Spurs, observes Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News“Even though one day I’ll be without Timmy [Duncan] and Manu [Ginobili] and [Gregg Popovich],” Parker said, “we’re still going to try to compete and bring in good players and try to be a franchise that wins games . . . I trust the Spurs. I trust [GM] R.C. [Buford] and [owner] Peter [Holt], that we will still have a competitive team.” 
  • Trade acquisition Arron Afflalo and extension recipient Kenneth Faried allowed the offseason activity to affect their games during the slow start for the Nuggets, as Ty Lawson tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes amid his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. The point guard credits coach Brian Shaw for helping set Afflalo and Faried straight amid Denver’s sudden turnaround.

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