Two days ago, in the first Game 7 of the 2011 playoffs, Memphis was eliminated by Oklahoma City. The series was hard fought and surprisingly equal, but had the Thunder not made their much publicized deadline deal for Kendrick Perkins, it may not have been.
A The primary reason for the Grizzlies success was their double trouble inside presence of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Heading into this season, few big men stood out on the free agent list like the younger Gasol, and over the past couple of weeks he showed why. Despite his team being eliminated, nobody’s played more minutes or grabbed more rebounds in these playoffs than Marc. He obliterated Tim Duncan, made Tony Parker want to quit, and scared the bejesus out of all Thunder fans who felt this was their time in the sun. The soft touch on Gasol’s jumper allows him to step out for pick and pops, setting defenses off balance; a perfect compliment to any offense in the modern game. And at 26-years-old, his next contract will cover his prime years as one of the few true two way big men in this league.
After saying all of this, one might think the Grizzlies would look foolish to let him go in free agency. One would be correct. After raising his stock in a contract year to a height most thought impossible, the restricted agent can hit the open market, but Memphis is allowed to match any team’s offer placed on the table. Even with heavy investments into the likes of Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Randolph, they’d be stupid not to.
Out of every team trying to contend right now, the Knicks are in the sorest need of a body like Gasol to clog up the middle and slow down the offense every once in a while. But with $59.6 million on the books for next year it appears the Knicks chances of grabbing him are shriveled up like a raisin.
From ESPN’s Marc Stein:
He won’t outright promise that Gasol will be back, but [Grizzlies' Owner] Heisley does echo Gay’s confidence about keeping these laughingstocks-no-more in the West elite.
On young Gasol, Heisley said: “Marc will decide whether he wants to be here. We will aggressively go after him. He’s a restricted free agent, so we can match whatever’s out there. But obviously if Marc wants to leave, I’m going to have a different attitude than if he wants to stay. I hope he wants to stay. And after what we’ve done in the playoffs, I think he will.”