Summer headlines have been dominated by rumors that a star player, eager to escape a team in disarray and taste playoff success, will be granted a trade to a new team.
Gasol hasn’t publicly expressed any displeasure with Memphis. He’s been to the playoffs for four straight years, so his case is different than Love’s. But as he enters the final year of his contract (a four-year deal he signed in 2011), there are factors he’ll likely consider:
Memphis can offer him the most money and the lengthiest contract under the collective bargaining agreement as it currently stands. But as the CBA expires at the end of next season, who knows how that will affect his Grizzlies tenure?
There’s limited cap space, a number of players primed to hit free agency, and holes that need to be filled to truly contend in the Western Conference. What changes do happen will likely be smaller, low-budget upgrades. A major trade could be enough to satisfy Gasol, with Tayshaun Prince’s expiring contact the key to pulling it off. But is Memphis a desirable free-agent destination, especially with Gasol’s future in doubt? The greatest challenge to luring anyone is…
Disarray at the Top
The NBA Finals showcase two teams that serve as a positive role model for other franchises. Though they’ve assembled championship-level teams in different ways, their respective front offices are a model of stability. From the lowest rungs of the coaching ladder (where Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra got his start) to the front offices that have been in place for years, these teams have a clear vision and the ability to implement it into reality. Can Memphis get past their tumultuous offseason and prove they can do the same?
Keeping it in the Family
Memphis is also trying to keep another star player, Zach Randolph, locked up as a Grizzly. His expiring contract has one year left, a player option that he has until June 30 to exercise. Should he opt out – and decide to join another team – his place on the team could be filled with another free agent, Pau Gasol. The chemistry is there, honed through years on the Spanish national team. While at the end of his career, Pau brings something to the team that is clearly lacking; championship experience. The Grizz may lose Z-Bo’s wide array of skills, but it might be a process of addition-by-subtraction if bringing in Pau could lead to a contented Marc, and the playoff success that has eluded this Memphis franchise throughout its existence.