Marc Gasol

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Brown, Knox, Fizdale

The Raptors‘ big deadline acquisition was veteran Marc Gasol, bolstering Toronto’s frontcourt entering the final stretch of the regular season. Thus far, Gasol has seen nearly equal time as a starter (six games) and as a reserve (seven games).

In those 13 games, Gasol has averaged 9.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG for the Raptors, well below his career rates. After spending his first 10-and-a-half seasons in Memphis, the big man is still getting used to his new team and teammates, as Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca writes.

“It’s an adjustment. I think it’s an adjustment for me, an adjustment for my teammates, for the coaches,” Gasol said. “You know, you play a certain way and it’s hard to change certain things on the fly. But you can’t try to force the issue. You have to organically improve and I’m here to work and do my best with a very positive mindset every day. It’s about what’s best for the team and how we can take another step at both ends of the floor.”

While the three-time All-Star figures out his role, the Raptors are focused on the postseason, clinching a spot in the Eastern Conference last week. Heading into that stretch, Gasol’s experience will be a factor but he does not want the attention to be solely on him.

“I don’t want to make a big deal out of it,” Gasol said. “Whatever role you’re given, it’s about having a good mindset. It’s not so much about starting — it’s about finishing games. It’s about the team playing well, and contributing to that. I know now that I’m going to have to start for the next few games, probably. And that contributes to a routine and a habit and a little bit of consistency. That helps you get that out of your mind. But I definitely don’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • Jaylen Brown has embraced his role off the bench to the Celtics‘ benefit despite being a starter and the team’s second-leading scorer a season ago, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. “He’s done a good job of embracing that,” Boston head coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s done a good job of not letting that affect his aggressiveness or his game.”
  • It has been an up and down season for Knicks rookie Kevin Knox who had been in a slump since December. Knox is appreciative of the rebuilding Knicks’ patience with his development but head coach David Fizdale has a strategy to help him improve, Marc Berman of New York Post writes.“His strength is going to be a big, big thing, fine-tuning his shooting, solidifying his post game,” Fizdale said. “Obviously, defensively I’m going to be all over him about taking another step forward, about being a playmaker, a shotblocker, a guy who can take a challenge one on one and really slide his feet against the best attackers.”
  • Speaking of Fizdale, earlier we relayed the head coach’s confidence in the Knicks doing well with free agents this summer.

Southeast Notes: Portis, Walker, Briscoe, Vucevic

The Wizards and Bobby Portis will decide this summer if they want their relationship to be long-term, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Acquired from the Bulls at the trade deadline, the 24-year-old power forward will be a restricted free agent in July. Portis is posting career highs with 15.3 PPG and 8.9 RPG in his nine games with Washington and is enjoying his new surroundings.

“Everything is pretty good, man. I like being a Wizard. I love being here,” he said. “I think this is a good fit for me through and through.”

However, Portis’ return next season isn’t a sure thing. Thomas Bryant will also be a restricted free agent, and Hughes doesn’t expect the front office to invest heavily in both. Washington will also have decisions to make on free agents Trevor Ariza, Wesley Johnson and Jeff Green, who will all be unrestricted.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Even if the Hornets can re-sign star guard Kemba Walker, there’s no guarantee they can ever surround him with enough talent to become a contender, observes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. GM Mitch Kupchak made inquiries about Bradley Beal, Marc Gasol and Harrison Barnes prior to the trade deadline, but wasn’t able to acquire any of them. Bonnell notes that if Charlotte commits about $200MM to Walker over the next five years, it will become tougher than ever for the team to add a second star.
  • Isaiah Briscoe‘s journey to the NBA took a detour through Estonia, but that experience has given him a toughness that benefits the Magic, writes John Denton of NBA.com. Briscoe was passed over in the 2017 draft and had to spend a year in Europe before receiving an NBA opportunity. “Isaiah is a tough-minded kid, undrafted and went overseas to get to the league, so he has a chip on his shoulder, and he has that mindset,’’ said teammate D.J. Augustin. “He’s a big, physical body for a point guard and he uses it out there well.’’
  • Magic center Nikola Vucevic hasn’t decided if World Cup basketball will be part of his summer plans, he said in an interview with TrendBasket (translated by Sportando). Vucevic indicated that Orlando’s postseason fate could determine whether he suits up for Montenegro. “I have not decided yet,” he said. “First we have to finish the season where we are trying to make the playoffs. We are focused on making the playoffs now. I will be free agent when the season ends. I am going to be busy for a while. I hope my situation will be clearer in July.”

Raptors Notes: Gasol, DeRozan, Ujiri

Leading into the trade deadline, the Raptors‘ biggest splash was the acquisition of veteran center Marc Gasol. The three-time All-Star has appeared in four games with Toronto since the trade, all off the bench.

After over a decade in Memphis, Gasol has had to not only adjust to a new team but also playing in a new country and learning a new playbook. Speaking to Sportsnet.ca’s Dave Zarum, Gasol explained how he has adjusted to his new surroundings.

“We’ve had three games with three different point guards [Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw, and Jeremy Lin]. That alone is an adjustment within the adjustment that you have to make on the fly,” Gasol said. “Thankfully, I know now 100% all of the plays. OK, 90% all of the plays. But I know them pretty well, so now it’s trying to understand what the team is looking for. How can I be effective within the flow of the game?”

Gasol admitted that it was tough to part with the Grizzlies but the opportunity to compete for a championship eases that burden. In his four appearances, the Spaniard has played just under 20 minutes per game, averaging 8.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG. As he becomes more acclimated to his new digs, Gasol expects his contributions to follow suit.

“I’m not a rah-rah guy, I’m not somebody who will get into anybody’s business,” Gasol said. “I’m pretty laid back and I stay in my lane a lot. But I want to win. At the end of the day it’s about winning and competing and making this team the best possible.”

Check out more Raptors notes below:
  • DeMar DeRozan played his first game at the Scotiabank Arena (formerly the Air Canada Centre) as a visitor on Friday with the Spurs. The former face of the franchise has detailed his roller-coaster emotions following last summer’s trade but his return to Toronto was about acceptance rather than vengeance, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright writes.
  • The Raptors have been a perennial postseason team that has been on the verge of a potentially championship-winning run. However, under Masai Ujiri this season, Toronto has shown the willingness to go for it with shrewd moves to put the franchise on the brink of a title, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders opines.
  • Speaking of Ujiri — the first African top executive of any of North America’s top four major sports leagues — his initiative to help those on his home continent has become part of his basketball goals, ESPN’s Anthony Olivieri writes.

Atlantic Notes: B. Simmons, Lakers, Gasol, Knicks

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson told reporters over the weekend that Ben Simmons had reached out to the team asking if he could get together with Johnson during the offseason to talk to him about playing in the NBA as a point guard with size. While Johnson suggested he’d be on board if the Sixers, the Lakers, and the NBA all signed off, it sounds like it won’t happen.

Appearing on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia (Twitter link), Sixers GM Elton Brand said today that Lakers GM Rob Pelinka contacted him to ask for authorization and Brand said no “over a month ago.” Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) hears a different account, citing a source who says that the 76ers initiated the discussion about Simmons wanting to meet with Johnson, with Pelinka calling Brand back to say the Lakers weren’t comfortable with it.

While it’s not clear which team shot down the idea first, neither side appears to be on board, so presumably Simmons and Johnson won’t meet this summer. The fact that the young 76er is represented by Rich Paul is sure to generate some speculation, but Ganguli tweets that Simmons’ desire to talk to Johnson was simply due to their on-court similarities, and he intends to be a Sixer for a long time.

Ganguli’s report won’t necessarily satisfy the NBA though. According to league spokesperson Mike Bass, the NBA is looking into whether there was any communication between Simmons and the Lakers that violated league rules (Twitter link via Ganguli).

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Marc Gasol waived the 15% trade kicker on his contract to help finalize the trade sending him to Toronto last week, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks on The Lowe Post podcast. While the trade bonus would only have been worth about $1.29MM, Gasol’s decision could save the Raptors about $3.2MM in projected tax penalties, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes (via Twitter).
  • Speaking of Gasol, the Raptors are still experimenting with a fluid frontcourt rotation as they figure out how to best use Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Pascal Siakam, head coach Nick Nurse said today (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic takes a wide-ranging look at what the summer could bring for the Knicks and their two maximum-salary contract slots, from the “utopia” outcome to the “doomsday” scenario.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Davis, Porzingis, Gasol

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has emphasized that the team isn’t done adding players to its roster, according to Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle.

Morey, who has served as the Rockets’ GM since 2007, said he has held discussions with multiple representatives, though he didn’t mention any specific player by name.

“We’re having multiple conversations,” Morey said, as relayed by Atkins. “We have a couple players at the top of the list. Until they clear waivers, it’s not something — we can’t really talk to them.”

For the Rockets, several veteran players cleared waivers this past week, including the likes of Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat, Enes Kanter and Omri Casspi. Houston also had interest in Wesley Matthews before he agreed to sign with Indiana a few days ago, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link).

The Rockets acquired defensive-minded Iman Shumpert at the NBA’s trading deadline, but still have an open roster spot to work with for the buyout market. The team holds the fifth best record in the West at 32-23 and could also work out a new contract with Danuel House, who remains in the G League.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis played in the second half of a back-to-back set with the team on Saturday, recording 14 points and 16 rebounds in nearly 34 minutes of action. Davis and the team agreed that his minutes would be reduced as he returns from injury, along with the fact that both sides will consult on which ends of back-to-backs Davis will play the rest of the season, according to ESPN.com. Davis formally requested a trade from the Pelicans through agent Rich Paul last month, but the team still held onto him past the Feb. 7 trading deadline.
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle showed new acquisition Kristaps Porzingis how the team plans to utilize him in a one-on-one meeting Friday, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s important to have a vision of the direction that you’re going to be going when you’re in a rehab situation like him, so you can get your mind focused on the kind of movements that are going to be required,” Carlisle said. “It was a very good meeting. I asked him for some feedback and we had good discussions.” Porzingis has made positive signs in his rehab from a torn ACL, but he isn’t expected to play for the Mavericks until next season.
  • Grizzlies owner Robert Pera released a statement on Marc Gasol after the franchise traded him to Toronto last week: “Marc has been a dedicated teammate, star player and pillar of this team for the past 11 seasons,” the statement read. “He plays with a heart and a passion for the game that helped carry this franchise to seven straight playoff appearances, but what Marc has done for this organization is about more than just basketball. He was a part of a core group of players that helped shape the identity of this franchise on and off the court and were embraced by the City of Memphis. On behalf of the Grizzlies organization, I would like to thank him for his blood, sweat and dedication to the Grizzlies and Memphis. The impact he has had on this team and the city will live on, and we look forward to one day welcoming him back home to Memphis where his #33 jersey will hang in the rafters of FedExForum next to Zach and Tony.”

Raptors Notes: Roster, Gasol, Leonard, Lowry

The Raptors have agreements to add a pair of players on 10-day contracts, but they might not join the team right away. A franchise has to have 12 players with standard contracts before it can issue 10-day deals, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM, and Toronto is down to 10 after after the trade deadline.

Malcolm Miller and Ben McLemore have both committed to joining the Raptors on 10-day contracts as soon as the situation is resolved. A 25-year-old forward, Miller was a two-way player in Toronto last season and appeared in 15 games. He suffered a dislocated shoulder during Summer League and has been doing rehab work with the Raptors’ G League affiliate. McLemore, the seventh pick in the 2014 draft, was waived by the Kings this week.

GM Bobby Webster tells Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports that the team plans to be aggressive on the buyout market. It will comply with league rules about roster size, but several moves may not come until after the All-Star break. (Twitter link). The Raptors have compiled a ranking of buyout prospects and have talked with several of their agents to express interest (Twitter link).

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Newly acquired center Marc Gasol doesn’t mind that the Raptors plan to experiment with him to determine his best role, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The former Grizzlies star came off the bench Saturday in his Raptors debut, posting seven points and six rebounds in a win over the Knicks. Coach Nick Nurse plans to use Gasol’s passing skills to expand the offense and will make him “captain” of the defense. “I’m not going to rush anything,” Gasol said. “As a player you just want to help a team accomplish their goals. That’s what this is about.”
  • Knicks fans have interest in Kawhi Leonard‘s future now that their team has room to offer two max contracts, but the Raptors forward didn’t want to discuss the topic after Saturday’s game in New York, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. “I’m not talking about that right now,” he told reporters. “We’re going to get there. I’m focused on this season. We can talk about the game.”
  • Team president Masai Ujiri doesn’t expect Kyle Lowry to be rattled about hearing his name in trade rumors, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. There were whispers that Lowry might be headed out of Toronto if the team could acquire Mike Conley from the Grizzlies. “I had a very good conversation with Kyle, and rumors are rumors, to be honest,” Ujiri said. “I see no issues, honestly, with him. Zero. We’re good, and I think his mind is focused on this run.”

The Deadline Deals That Didn’t Happen

The Raptors were close to acquiring Nikola Mirotic, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports on his podcast. The power forward would have been part of a three-team trade with the Pelicans and Magic in the proposed framework. Toronto didn’t have the expiring contracts that New Orleans was seeking and Mirotic was instead sent to the Bucks.

Toronto shifted its focus back to Marc Gasol and acquired the big man from Memphis in exchange for Jonas ValanciunasDelon WrightC.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick.

The Hornets came close to acquiring Gasol before some “last-minute haggling,”  ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes. Charlotte had a lottery-protected first-round pick on the table for most of the week leading up to the deadline. Lowe passes along more deals that were discussed behind the scenes. Here are the highlights from his latest piece:

  • The Sixers offered two second-rounders to the Pelicans for Mirotic and prior to trading for Tobias Harris, Philadelphia and New Orleans discussed a Markelle Fultz-Mirotic swap. Fultz was dealt to the Magic for Jonathon Simmons and a pair of picks.
  • The Hornets pursued a deal for Harrison Barnes, dangling a first-round pick to the Mavericks, Lowe adds in the same piece. Dallas would have had to take back long-term money in the potential deal, something that it wasn’t willing to do.
  • The Nets and Grizzlies briefly discussed sending Allen Crabbe to Memphis along with a first-round pick (Denver’s 2019 selection) in exchange for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green, sources tell Lowe. Tax concerns led Memphis to shy away from acquiring Crabbe, who will take home approximately $19MM next season.
  • Several teams attempted to pry Andrew Wiggins from the Wolves without giving up much in return. Minnesota was uninterested in giving Wiggins away.
  • Kris Dunn was available at the deadline but the Bulls weren’t looking to deal Zach LaVine. Lowe writes that Chicago may have only considered trading LaVine if it received an overwhelming offer, something that was unlikely to occur.

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Lowry, Sixers, Celtics, Russell

The Raptors struck a major deal to acquire star center Marc Gasol today, sending Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis in the agreement.

Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is expected to help push the Raptors to a deep postseason run as their new starting center.

“Marc’s a hell of a basketball player,” teammate Kyle Lowry said, as relayed by Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “I got a chance to play with him earlier in our careers but neither of us were at the level we’re at now. It’s going to be very cool.”

Gasol also reunites with Sergio Scariolo, head coach of the Spanish National Team and current assistant with the Raptors. Gasol’s ability to score, rebound and defend at the center position intrigued the Raptors as a potential fit, with the team now sporting a projected starting five of him, Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.

“There’s a lot of things Marc can do,” Lowry said, according to Lewenberg“I think his playmaking is one of the things we’re going to really be able to use…I think his defence is going to help us also…There’s a lot of advantages he brings to us and I think he’s going to really help us.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Sixers made a move to acquire Tobias Harris from the Clippers this week, although it’s unclear how long discussions between the two sides lasted before an agreement was reached. Rich Hofmann of The Athletic suggests that the teams have discussed a Harris-related deal for months, while Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated reports that the deal started being discussed on Tuesday. Regardless, Philadelphia now has a “core four” of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid to compete in the Eastern Conference for the rest of the season.
  • Celtics general manager Danny Ainge reached out to the representatives of a few players today with hopes of filling the team’s open roster spot, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). However, Ainge is unsure about how much interest players will have, given how deep Boston’s roster is, Mannix notes.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is ready to recruit players to Brooklyn in free agency, speaking before the NBA’s trade deadline this week. “I mean we understand it’s a business,” Russell said, according to Chris Milholen of Nets Daily. “I got to be in Brooklyn to recruit someone to be in Brooklyn. I think that with the situation that we have with the young talent and like I said, we surprised a lot of people this year with the play that we have and I think we have a great situation for anybody to come in and be open with two arms.”

Grizzlies Trade Marc Gasol To Raptors

9:05pm: The Raptors have officially acquired Gasol from the Grizzlies, sending Valanciunas, Wright, Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis in return, the teams announced on Thursday.

“Marc [Gasol] brings significant playoff experience to our team, which along with his savviness and leadership skills really helps position us for our ultimate post-season goal,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “We look forward to welcoming Marc to our city and team.”

12:55pm: The Raptors and Grizzlies are finalizing a trade agreement that would send Marc Gasol to Toronto, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Memphis is expected to receive Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick in exchange for Gasol, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

It’s the latest major development in what has turned into an arms race among the Eastern Conference’s top contenders. The Sixers acquired Tobias Harris on Wednesday morning, and the Bucks reached a deal to acquire Nikola Mirotic earlier today.

The Raptors will surrender some depth in the trade by giving up three rotation players, but none of Valanciunas, Wright, and Miles were starters. In acquiring Gasol, Toronto will add more firepower to its frontcourt, acquiring a veteran center who has been linked to the club for years.

A former Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol has slowed down a step or two at age 34, but he’s still a productive scorer (15.7 PPG), rebounder (8.6 RPG), and rim protector (1.2 BPG). He has also added an outside shot to his game in recent years, making 35.7% of his attempts and 1.4 threes per game over the last three seasons. It will be interesting to see how the Raptors manage his minutes in a frontcourt that also features Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam, both of whom are having excellent seasons.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, will move on from a three-time All-Star who has been in Memphis since 2008. Despite Gasol’s long tenure with the franchise, it appeared this week as if he was ready to move on, having cleared out his locker when it looked as if a trade to the Hornets was a possibility. That deal with Charlotte never got too close to being finalized, notes Sean Deveney of Sporting News (Twitter link).

In exchange for Gasol, Memphis gets a productive center in Valanciunas, who is set to return from a hand injury, a promising young point guard in Wright, who will be a restricted free agent season’s end, and Miles, a sharpshooter who has had a down year. The Grizzlies will also acquire a future second-round pick, though it’s hard to determine how much value that selection will have by 2024.

Valanciunas has a $17.62MM player option for next season, while Miles has a $8.73MM player option. Both players look like solid bets to opt in. It’s not clear yet what Gasol will do with his own $25.6MM player option for 2019/20. The Raptors would have his Bird Rights if he opts out.

Gasol also has a 15% trade kicker, which will be applied to his 2018/19 cap hit, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.com. That bonus would increase Gasol’s cap figure by close to $1.3MM if he doesn’t waive it.

Marks also observes that this deal will leave the Raptors with just 11 players under contract after they also sent Malachi Richardson to Philadelphia. The club will have two weeks to get back to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players, so it could be an active month in Toronto.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Gasol, Conley, Hornets, Wolves, Suns

The Grizzlies hold two of the NBA’s biggest trade chips as today’s trade deadline approaches, and the two teams linked most frequently to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, respectively, remain in the hunt for those players, according to reports.

Marc Stein of The New York Times tweeted this morning that the Hornets continue to engage the Grizzlies on a potential deal for Gasol, which has been rumored throughout the week, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that the two teams are still trying to bridge the gap in those talks.

Meanwhile, on the Conley front, the Jazz have been most frequently cited as a potential landing spot for the veteran point guard. Despite whispers that Conley prefers not to end up in Utah, the Jazz haven’t abandoned their efforts to acquire him, according to Stein, who tweets that Memphis has considered waiting until the offseason to revisit Conley trade talks.

Even if Gasol and/or Conley stay put, it could still be an active deadline in Memphis. Stein notes (via Twitter) that JaMychal Green is attracting trade interest. Garrett Temple and Justin Holiday have also been mentioned as potential trade candidates.

Here are a few more trade rumors from across the league:

  • While their focus is on Gasol for now, the Hornets were in the mix for Harrison Barnes before he was sent to Sacramento, according to Stein (Twitter link).
  • The Timberwolves haven’t made any serious progress on any deals, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who observes (via Twitter) that the Jeff Teague, Gorgui Dieng, and Taj Gibson contracts won’t be easy to move due to large cap hits and – in the case of Teague and Dieng – multiyear commitments. Anthony Tolliver, on a smaller expiring contract, has generated interest and could be moved today, Wolfson adds.
  • League sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that the Suns haven’t talked to the Lakers about a Lonzo Ball deal and that Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren aren’t expected to go anywhere today.
  • Although there may be an outside perception that Anthony Davis‘ trade request has destabilized the Pelicans, none of his teammates have shown even a hint of animosity toward him, as Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com details. Head coach Alvin Gentry called Davis “a great kid,” while teammate Jrue Holiday said, he “loves” having AD around. “He’s like my big brother. He takes care of me,” Jahlil Okafor said of Davis. “… Selfishly, I would love to be by him every day like I have been this year. But at the end of the day, I just want him to be happy.”