A disastrous season in Memphis got even worse today with the announcement that Mike Conley will have heel surgery and miss the rest of the season. Conley appeared in just 12 games this year and hasn’t been on the court since mid-November.
It’s the latest in a long string of bad news for the Grizzlies, who are 17-31 and mired in 12th place in the Western Conference. Memphis is seven games out of a playoff spot, but only three games from the top in our latest Reverse Standings, which means a high lottery pick could be in the cards for a franchise whose roster got very old while making seven straight playoff appearances.
If the Grizzlies are ready to rebuild, one obvious place to start is with Marc Gasol. The veteran center, who will turn 33 on Monday, is having a typically productive year, averaging 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 47 games. He’s a three-time All-Star and probably would have received more consideration this season if Memphis were higher in the standings.
The Grizzlies’ front office continues to say it plans to hang on to Gasol, but the team’s financial situation may force a move. Memphis has three gigantic contracts on its books in Gasol, Conley and Chandler Parsons, and if all three remain, the team won’t have significant cap space until the summer of 2020.
Conley probably has three seasons left on the record-setting contract he signed in the summer of 2016. He will make more than $30.5MM next season, more than $32.5MM in 2019/20 and has a player option worth more than $34.5MM in 2020/21. Parsons, who has only played 26 games this season, still has two more years and more than $49.2MM left on his deal. Gasol is owed nearly $24.12MM next season with a player option for nearly $25.6MM in 2019/20. Conley won’t be dealt because of the surgery, and Parsons’ injury history makes his contract among the most untradable in the league. So that leaves Gasol.
In addition to giving themselves some cap flexibility, the Grizzlies should be able to get a nice package of young talent and draft picks in return. The Cavaliers and Bucks have been tied to trade rumors involving DeAndre Jordan, and both would surely be interested in Gasol. The Celtics, among others, could also get involved.
We want to hear from you. Should the Grizzlies start the rebuilding process by trading Gasol, and what should they ask for in return? Jump into the comments section below and give us your opinion.