Marc Gasol

Grizzlies Rumors: Wallace, Bickerstaff, Evans, Gasol

The Grizzlies were viewed as a borderline playoff contender coming into the 2017/18 season, but dealt with injuries to key players like Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, and ultimately finished the year as the league’s second-worst team. Despite Memphis’ disappointing results – and some questionable draft decisions and roster moves in recent years – GM Chris Wallace says he’s not expecting ownership to make any major front office changes this offseason.

“I understand the frustration of this past year,” Wallace said, per Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “But, I’m not going to take sole credit for this, the front office teams I’ve presided over won the most ever games in the history of this franchise. We were seven straight years in the playoffs. We also brought in four of what I call the extended Mount Rushmore or six most important players in of the franchise. One year out of the playoffs doesn’t necessarily mean we’re out of touch and no longer capable of doing the job.”

As for Wallace’s expectations for the coming offseason and the 2018/19 campaign? He fully expects the Grizzlies to bounce back from a dismal 2017/18 showing.

“The plan on the short-term side of it is to get back in the swing of things,” Wallace said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be a very viable competitive team next year. … I’m excited about next year. I think we’ll be a pretty good team next year.”

The Grizzlies’ end-of-season sessions with the media resulted in a few more interesting tidbits, so let’s round them up…

  • As Tillery details, star players Conley and Marc Gasol both endorsed J.B. Bickerstaff, the Grizzlies’ interim head coach, who is considered a strong candidate for the permanent job. “He’s done a tremendous job with the tools he was given and with what he was allowed to do,” Gasol said. “Through all the mess and the situation, he€’s done a great job.” Conley simply told reporters that Bickerstaff “deserves this job.”
  • Wallace didn’t commit to sticking with Bickerstaff for 2018/19, but he offered praise of his own for David Fizdale‘s replacement, per Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal. “I thought guys developed, they got better, and I give him credit,” Wallace said. “It’s not an easy assignment they were given in difficult circumstances. … The losses obviously piled up, you can’t point to any gaudy record, but you watch them day to day, step by step, practice by practice, there was improvement and everybody stayed on point and did not wallow in the fact that it was a difficult situation.”
  • According to Tillery, the Grizzlies remain hopeful that they’ll be able to re-sign Tyreke Evans using their mid-level exception this July. That was the plan reported back in February when Memphis opted to hang onto Evans through the trade deadline.
  • With Robert Pera poised to remain the controlling owner of the Grizzlies, Gasol plans on meeting with him this offseason to discuss the direction of the franchise, according to Calkins. “You want to hear what – now, knowing that Robert has full control again, and that he’s fully committed, not only to the team, but to the city — you want to know what direction we’re headed, what do you want out of this, what kind of team are you trying to put together?” Gasol said. “I want to know what he has to say and how he feels.”
  • While a trade is probably unlikely, Wallace acknowledged that the Grizzlies will keep all their options with their lottery pick, which will be a top-five selection (Twitter link via Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com).

Marc Gasol Talks Losing Season, Goals, And Future

In a Q&A with the Commercial Appeal, veteran center Marc Gasol discussed an array of topics, including the Grizzlies‘ poor season, his goals for the rest of the year and looking ahead beyond 2017/18. Gasol is in his 10th NBA season and despite his usually solid numbers, it has not translated into team success.

Gasol has only been part of one other losing season in Memphis, his rookie season, when the team went 24-58. Currently, the Grizzlies own an 18-47 record, so Gasol could be part of his worst Memphis team to date. The 33-year-old has been candid about his frustrations with the team and their performance but he is also taking positives out of the experience.

The Commercial Appeal’s piece is well worth a full read but we’ve pulled a few of Gasol’s’ more memorable quotes. Let’s check them out…

On how quickly the Grizzlies fell out of contention:

I don’t know. There’s a process to everything. I think we lived on credit for a little too long, forgot the small details of things.

“Obviously, we had pretty talented players on both ends of the floor who fed off each other and complemented each other. There was one non-negotiable rule: We competed. No matter who the other team was, we always competed and did our job. Now, it’s not the same.

“We’re trying to figure out our strengths and weaknesses to try to put something together that’s somewhat stable.”

On Gasol’s goal for the rest of the season:

“I mean, win a game, right? Win some games. Winning puts a stamp on it and reassures you. It sends a message that the things you’re trying to do, the consequences are winning.

“So, I think winning, finding consistency, trying to build on something, finding something solid you can have a foundation to build on for whatever you’re trying to do next year. Because at this point, if you don’t find that consistency, it’s going to be really hard. You’re going to start from zero and you don’t want to start from zero again.”

On trying to stay in the present and not worry about the losses building up and look to the future:

We’ll talk about it after the season. That’s when you do it. During the season, you put everything on hold and not allow your mind to go there. But, obviously, there are a lot of things we need to figure out as a franchise.

“Right now, there’s nothing we can do about that. We have to build momentum going into the off-season and get clear ideas about what guys – and myself – need to work on for the future.”

Southwest Notes: Davis, Cousins, Gasol, Rockets

Anthony Davis isn’t concerned about losing his All-Star partner on the Pelicans‘ front line this offseason, relays William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. Davis believes free agent DeMarcus Cousins will re-sign in New Orleans, although a season-ending Achilles injury may have clouded his future somewhat.

“I hope so. That’s a decision he has to make. I’m pretty confident that he’ll stay,” Davis said. “From what I hear, he plans on it. But I’m going to keep selling the dream here. I’ll be very involved — I want him here.”

Davis and Cousins formed the league’s most productive duo of big men before the injury, with each averaging better than 25 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Pelicans faltered immediately after losing Cousins, but have won nine in a row to rise to fourth place in the West. Cousins, who still doesn’t have a timetable to start playing again, is eligible for an offer of up to five years and $175MM from the Pelicans this summer.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pau Gasol advised his younger brother to remain professional and mentally tough as the Grizzlies suffer through a long losing streak, writes Ronald Tillery of USA Today. The frustration in Memphis is something new for Marc Gasol, who has been to the playoffs the past seven years. “What I told him is, ‘Do your best. Keep competing.’ That’s the only thing you can control,” Pau said. “You can’t control that one of your best players, Mike Conley, is out for the year. You can’t control that [Chandler] Parsons, one of your biggest signings, has an [injury] issue and so forth. All you can control is your effort, your work ethic, your mindset going into games.”
  • The Grizzlies should make trading Gasol a priority for the offseason, contends Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. Moving Gasol would not only bring a nice package of players and draft picks, Davies argues, it would also get rid of an unhappy star and shed one of the three huge contracts that are clogging the team’s salary cap.
  • Lost amid the Rockets‘ 16-game winning streak is the fact that the team has been dealing with a series of injuries and illnesses, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The two most pressing concerns are a left hip injury to Ryan Anderson, who hopes to return this week, and knee soreness bothering newly signed center Brandan Wright.

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Johnson, Gasol

Kawhi Leonard‘s health has cast doubt on him returning this season, and his future with the Jordan Brand is also unclear, sources tell ESPN’s Michael C. Wright and Ramona Shelburne. Leonard and Nike were reportedly “very close” to a four-year, $20MM extension but his representatives felt the offer was not reflective of his recent success and standing within the league.

Leonard, 26, has racked up droves of impressive accolades during his seven-year NBA career. He is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, two-time All-Star, NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, and part of the Spurs‘ 2014 championship team. Leonard pockets south of $500K annually on his current deal and his representatives want a deal that reflects the aforementioned accomplishments.

Leonard’s current agreement expires on October 1, but Nike has the option of matching any deal he receives from another brand. Injuries have limited Leonard to just nine games this season but there is optimism he may return later this month.

Check out other Southwest Division notes below:

  • Joe Johnson came to the Rockets as a veteran who can score and provide leadership as the team prepares for the postseason. Injuries have allowed Johnson to see more minutes and he is thrilled to show off his versatility, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. “As someone who came into the league as a one, two and three, playing the four, I can do things some guys are not as comfortable with,” Johnson said. “We just look to make plays. That’s what it’s about.”
  • Marc Gasol shares an idealist and pure take on the NBA and recent tanking debate — while the Grizzlies are in the midst of a 13-game losing streak, Chris Herrington of the Commercial Appeal relays. “Winning is what this is about. It’s not about somebody playing well, or getting your reps, or developing players. We’ve got a league for that. … This is the NBA, not the D League,” Gasol said.
  • Speaking of the Grizzlies’ losing streak, the team, sporting an 18-44 record, is playing its hardest, but each loss is taking its toll, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes. “You’ve got a bunch of guys who are committed to doing the right thing. And there’s only so many moral victories that you can have,” Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “At the end of the day, this is results based but it hurts. And it hurts them because they’re giving so much. They’re competing so hard. You can’t tell me a guy that didn’t leave it all out there tonight. And circumstances are what they are. But like I said, you hurt for these guys. And you want them to be rewarded with a ‘W.’”

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Harden, Mills, Powell

The Grizzlies are on a 10-game losing streak and Marc Gasol is admittedly highly frustrated, he tells Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. As he sees it, the NBA is about winning, not about getting more repetitions for younger players or player development, which, in Gasol’s view, should be left to the G League. In a piece for Yahoo Sports, Chris Mannix adds that head coach J.B. Bickerstaff acknowledges the frustration that Gasol is experiencing.

“A guy as competitive as he is, and a guy who every day matters to him, whether it’s practice, drill work, three-on-three, he’s trying to win… A guy who is so unselfish, he doesn’t care how many points he scores. The only thing that matters to him are wins and losses. I think we all understand and appreciate guys who are that way. There’s no doubt about it, it’s frustrating for him.”

Despite the frustration, Gasol is trying to improve different areas of his game, says Bickerstaff.

“He’s working on different parts of his game. The way teams are playing, you don’t see a ton of post-up opportunities any more, (so) he’s working on his face-up game, he’s working on a different array of shots, in the paint, how he gets to those spots, things like that. Playing from the perimeter, being able to attack off the catch versus other big guys. Those things we’ve seen him be able to implement. He’s been able to implement them quick. As soon as he puts his mind to it, he can add it that night.”

There’s more news out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets have the best record in the NBA and are currently one game ahead of second-place Golden State in the loss column. FiveThirtyEight gives them the best odds (40%) of winning the NBA title. And as MVP-favorite James Harden sees it, “this is (Houston’s) year”, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
  • Spurs guard Patty Mills has replaced incumbent Danny Green in the starting lineup for now, reports Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. As is typical for head coach Gregg Popovich, he wouldn’t elaborate on the change, but Mills appears to give the Spurs a bit more offensive firepower in the first unit, while Green improves the second-unit’s defensive presence.
  • Mavericks big man Dwight Powell is making a case to be the team’s primary center moving forward, opines Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Averaging 14.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest over the last seven games, Powell excels at playing hard. “(T)he thing I like about Powell is you’re going to get unconditional, boundless energy and the highest of high-care factors when it comes to the team,” said head coach Rick Carlisle.

Woj’s Latest: M. Gasol, Evans, Pacers, Randle

With general managers around the NBA gearing up for the final hours before the 2018 trade deadline, there’s not a whole lot of enthusiasm for an “impactful” day of deals, says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, there’s a sense that trades will be made, but the day may be short on difference-making deals.

Still, Woj has several trade-related notes and rumors to pass along, so let’s dive in and round them up…

  • Teams have been reaching out to ask the Grizzlies about Marc Gasol, but those clubs have consistently been shut down, league sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As has been the case all season, Memphis refuses to engage in trade discussions involving Gasol.
  • The Grizzlies continue to seek a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans, but suitors like the Celtics, Nuggets, and Sixers have been hesitant to offer more than either a second-round pick or a young player, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Teams seem to be hanging onto their first-rounders tighter than ever, per Woj.
  • The Pacers have been aggressively seeking out deals that would allow them to land a first-round pick while taking on a bad contract, tweets Wojnarowski. Indiana is willing to offer Al Jefferson in such a deal, Woj adds. The veteran big man doesn’t have a lot of value, but his $10MM salary for 2018/19 is only partially guaranteed for $4MM, making it a pseudo-expiring contract.
  • The Lakers have passed on multiple offers of second-round picks for Julius Randle, league sources tell Woj (Twitter link). Randle’s impending restricted free agency makes it very unlikely that any club will put a first-rounder on the table.

Lowe’s Latest: Cavs, Jordan, Magic, Nuggets, Sixers

On Monday, we rounded up some of the highlights from a Lowe Post podcast featuring ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski. Late last night, Lowe published an extensive look at the trade market at ESPN.com, following up on some of the scuttlebutt he shared in that podcast. While there are a few repeated items with Lowe’s piece, he also has plenty of new notes for us as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches. Let’s dive in…

  • Lowe views Marc Gasol as a target that would make sense for the Cavaliers if they’re willing to trade the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder. However, he notes that the Grizzlies seem satisfied to stand pat, and the two teams haven’t discussed Gasol. Rival executives also say that the Cavs continue to act as if they won’t trade the Brooklyn pick.
  • Outside of the teams already known to have expressed interest in DeAndre Jordan – such as the Rockets, Bucks, and Trail Blazers – the Wizards are another club that has looked into the Clippers center, says Lowe. However, despite investigating the market for Jordan, Washington hasn’t gained any momentum toward a deal.
  • Every Magic player except for Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac is “readily available,” sources tell Lowe. Most people around the league think that Elfrid Payton will be playing somewhere besides Orlando next season, Lowe adds.
  • As Lowe observes, Nuggets may not be able to afford Will Barton‘s next contract, but the team appears okay with holding onto him through the deadline and risking losing him for nothing this summer. Denver also remains on the lookout for point guards, having kicked the tires on Pacers backup Cory Joseph, per Lowe. However, potential targets like Joseph and Garrett Temple may not be viable due to the guaranteed 2018/19 money on their contracts.
  • The Sixers are approaching the trade deadline as buyers, but no longer have as many extra first-round draft picks as they’ve had in recent years, so they may only willing to dangle second-rounders, says Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, the Timberwolves have been very cautious about discussing the 2018 first-rounder they’ll get from the Thunder, since they recognize they’ll need cheap players to fill out the roster as Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns get very expensive.
  • The Warriors remain on the lookout for bench help — they inquired on Avery Bradley, but got nowhere, league sources tell Lowe.
  • The Heat don’t appear to have traction on any major deals, according to Lowe.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Leonard, Matthews

It’s inevitable, Keith Smith of RealGM writes, that the Grizzlies will need to trade Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The two veterans were the last longtime core players standing after Zach Randolph and Tony Allen departed during the offseason and could help the franchise land desperately needed assets on their way out.

Although both players are approaching the wrong side of their primes, they could make an impact for contending teams. Gasol, Smith writes, could even land the Grizzlies a package of draft picks and young players if dealt.

Finding a suitor for Conley may be slightly more difficult as he’s owed nearly $114MM through 2020-21. For that reason, the scribe suggests that the Grizzlies should jump at any opportunity to get out of the deal if they get a chance, even if the yield is less than expected.

The moves may be difficult, Smith adds, but they’d put the Grizzlies on the quickest course to building a new contender.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • While it was announced that Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard would be out for an “indefinite period” of time to rehab his right quadriceps injury, the injury isn’t as disastrous as some have interpreted it as. “Career-threatening shouldn’t even be in the conversation,” one person close to Leonard told Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).
  • Rockets CEO Tad Brown was surprised that the league didn’t come down on Blake Griffin for allegedly hitting head coach Mike D’Antoni, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza were the only players suspended for their parts in the kerfuffle that unfolded in Los Angeles on Monday night.
  • Unsure of where the Mavs currently fall in the To Tank Or Not To Tank debate, Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News writes that there’s no major incentive to unload Wesley Matthews. The economics of the league have changed since Matthews signed his four-year, $70MM contract back in 2015. These days, the approximately $18MM cap hit for the lockdown perimeter defender doesn’t seem as outlandish as it did in the past.

Grizzlies Notes: Conley, Season Outlook, Evans

The Grizzlies currently have one of the NBA’s worst records, with their 12-27 mark putting them in a tie for last place in the Western Conference. Still, in a recent interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, injured point guard Mike Conley expressed optimism that the team can still turn things around and make a run at a playoff spot this season.

“I know we are near the bottom right now, but we definitely have enough time,” Conley said. “We have enough time if we are able to put everything together in a short period of time and put enough wins together to make a run. Health is the key. Health is the No. 1 thing. Not try to rush everything. Just make that push by making sure everything is in order, like myself and the rest of the guys that are banged up.”

Speaking to Spears, Conley also addressed David Fizdale‘s ouster, his nagging Achilles injury, his contract, and the state of the Grizzlies — on that last point, Conley acknowledged that the team’s outlook has undergone “a 180” since the start of the season, but reiterated that he still believes the ship can be righted.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • The club would be better off waving the white flag on this season and pointing toward a more realistic playoff push next season, Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal opines. The franchise could make a quick turnaround by bringing in a high draft pick to go along with its veteran core, Herrington continues. That means reducing the minutes of Marc Gasol and Chandler Parsons and allowing Mike Conley’s sore Achilles to fully heal. They should also move the expiring contracts of Tyreke Evans and Brandan Wright before the trade deadline, Herrington adds.
  • Evans can only be offered the mid-level exception, so the team would be wise to trade him now and perhaps make another run at him in the summer, as Herrington explains in a separate piece. Herrington proposes potential trades involving Evans to the Spurs, Wizards, Pelicans, Pistons and Raptors, mostly involving a player or two and a first-round pick.
  • Earlier today, we passed along an update from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Grizzlies’ potential asking price for Evans and the team’s unwillingness to consider moving Marc Gasol.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Grizzlies Want To Land First-Round Pick For Evans

As one of the NBA’s worst teams through the first half, the Grizzlies are positioned to be sellers at next month’s trade deadline, and Tyreke Evans figures to be their top trade chip. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Memphis wants to land a first-round pick in exchange for Evans.

Evans has enjoyed a career year so far in his return to Memphis, where he played his college ball. The 28-year-old has bounced back from a forgettable 2016/17 campaign to post 19.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, and a .471/.416/.787 shooting line in 38 games (19 starts) this season.

Despite those numbers, Wojnarowski is skeptical that the Grizzlies will be able to secure a first-round pick for Evans, noting that he’d be a rental — the former fourth overall pick will be eligible for unrestricted free agency six months from now. Still, Evans’s affordable salary ($3.29MM) and his impressive production make him an intriguing target for contenders, so perhaps there will be a team willing to part with a protected first-rounder, especially if Memphis is willing to take on a modest unwanted contract (like the Nets did in last season’s Bojan Bogdanovic swap with the Wizards).

Of course, even if the Grizzlies were able to acquire a first-round pick for Evans, there are some doubts about the front office’s ability to get value out of that selection. Memphis’ first-round picks from 2012 (Tony Wroten), 2014 (Jordan Adams), and 2016 (Wade Baldwin) don’t currently have NBA contracts, and the team also waived Rade Zagorac, the 35th overall pick from 2016, this past fall.

In addition to Evans, Marc Gasol would represent a significant trade piece for the Grizzlies as the deadline approaches, but the club continues to say it plans to keep the standout center, according to Wojnarowski.