A loss in San Antonio on Wednesday extended the Grizzlies’ losing streak to nine games and dropped the team to 7-13 on the season. However, according to general manager Chris Wallace, the team has no plans to shift into rebuilding mode this year. As Wallace explained to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, the Grizzlies fully expect to contend once they get healthy, and they’re “full speed ahead” with the current roster.
“We’ve been in the playoffs seven years in a row,” Wallace said. “We’ve got a team when fully healthy and we get everything together is more athletic, more versatile and more potent offensively than we’ve had for a number of years. Even though the going has been a little difficult early, there’s still 62 [games] to play. We believe in this team.”
In the wake of the decision to bench Marc Gasol during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn, there was speculation about a potential trade involving Gasol. Memphis’ decision to dismiss David Fizdale a day later quieted those rumblings to a certain extent, but given the club’s health issues and its record through 20 games, there were some executives who believed the Grizzlies would continue to explore their options with Gasol. Wallace told MacMahon that’s not the case.
“We have no intention to trade Marc,” Wallace said. “We never seriously considered that at all. We never placed any calls to any teams in that regard. So that’s not happening. … It’s not just Marc that this whole equation is about. It’s also Mike Conley when he comes back. We’ve got two guys among the elite in the league at their respective positions that are still very much in their window with an awful lot of tread left on their tires.”
While the Grizzlies’ stance may frustrate some fans and observers, it would be tricky for the team to engage in an all-out rebuild at this point. Conley and Chandler Parsons still have multiple guaranteed years left on their massive contracts after this season, which would make it difficult to get a solid return in any trade involving them. Gasol, who has a slightly less lucrative salary and a shorter-term deal, has a bit more trade value, but hasn’t been at his best so far this season, limiting his appeal to potential suitors.
For his part, Gasol says he’s happy the front office is willing to stick with the current group a little longer. However, as MacMahon details, the veteran center acknowledges that the Grizzlies’ stance may change quickly if the team doesn’t start winning.
“You know how brutal and how the reality is in the NBA and how much things can change fast, so you’ve got to really do the most and get the most out of every minute that you’re able to,” Gasol said. “Obviously, you appreciate the confidence and the trust that they’re showing in myself and Mike, because maybe the next step once you try to fix it by replacing the head coach, then it’s your big guns, try to change them, too. That may be the natural step, but they’re sticking with us.”