The Malik Allen trade yesterday has spurred quite a bit of big man talk around here and over on Denver Stiffs. A name that keeps popping up is Marc Gasol ... the younger brother of Pau Gasol (our favorite!)The thought is that since Denver now possesses another expiring deal in Allen, that perhaps the Nuggets are preparing to make a splash via trade. Gasol is a popular idea for many reasons. He has the kind of size that makes coaches salivate at 7'1'' and 265+ pounds, his contract should have GMs around the league dreaming of ways to pry him loose from Memphis ($3.2 million this year and $3.4 million in the 2010-11 season), and as a rookie he adjusted quickly to the NBA game.
Just look at Gasol's numbers from last season: 82 games played, 30.7 minutes a night, 53% shooting, 73.3% from the charity stripe, 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds (2.5 offensive, 4.9 defensive), 3.2 fouls, 1.1 blocks, and 1.7 assists. Gasol had a career night on November 3, 2008 versus Golden State when he put up 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds ... that was just one of his 16 double-doubles. And those 27 points he scored only lasted until March 7, 2009 when he set his new career-high of 30 points against the 76'ers.
Oh and did I mention that he wont be 25 until January 29th, 2010?
The question becomes ... now that Memphis drafted Hasheem Thabeet does that mean that Gasol may be on the trade block?
Well, I'm no expert on things related to the Memphis Grizzlies - so I reached out to Chip Crain from 3 Shades of Blue for some insight into Gasol's availability.
The popular Grizzlies blogger has an impressive bio:
The old man of the blog, Chip is 47 yrs old and has been an avid NBA fan since his college days at SMU following the expansion Dallas Mavericks. A veteran of the Grizzlies Message board, Chip was invited by Josh Coleman to join the blog and was promoted to owner during Josh’s sabbatical. Chip has developed close relationships within the Grizzlies organization which gives him access to the inner workings of the Memphis Grizzlies unsurpassed in the blogging universe. While being so close to the leadership has created problems with objectivity Chip tries hard to separate his personal feelings about the team with the feelings of those he talks to. Chip generally focuses on pre-game commentary during the season and interviews with Grizzlies insiders and players.
Here is the email exchange I had with Chip about the trading of Marc Gasol to the Nuggets:
Nate: "We've been discussing, all offseason, different moves the Nuggets could make for a big man. My readers have taken a liking tofor his size, cheap contract, and overall inside presence that he'd bring.
I don't see Memphis wanting to deal a guy who practically put up a double-double on a nightly basis, but figured I'd ask somebody with more knowledge on the subject.
Would Memphis consider trading Gasol this season? What would they demand in return?"
Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue: "Untouchable is my immediate response. Gasoline is a legitimate starting NBA center. He is 24 years old, 7'1'' tall, shot around 50% from the floor and grabbed (7.4) boards last year. He has range out to 10-12 feet right now and with a low post scorer should be able to get it off more this year than last. Then you factor in his his toughness and passing ability and his contract plus the reality that Thabeet and (Hamad) Haddadi being ill-prepared to play significant minutes and you see why he can't be traded.The other problem involves the Nuggets offer. Are you willing to part with Nene? Nobody wants Kenyon (Martin) and (Chris) Andersen just re-signed so I don't believe you can trade him even if you were willing.Finally Gasol probably isn't a great fit for Denver. He's a big muscle-elephant not a gazelle. The greatest advantage Denver has is the altitude. Why would they want to negate that with a slow interior player?So outside of the Grizzlies not being able, the Nuggets not having what they need, and Gasol not being a great fit anyway it makes a lot of sense!"
As you can tell from Crain's response ... it would be very difficult to pry Gasol loose from Memphis. While Thabeet is a project and maybe the man of the future ... Gasol has proven himself as a reliable center already and that's a rare thing in the NBA. If Memphis did trade Gasol they would have to basically throw Thabeet to the wolves and no GM with a brain would do that. But that is where Memphis' GM Chris Wallace comes into play. Wallace isn't known for being trade savvy ... cough ... Pau Gasol to the Lakers ... cough ... trading for Zach "Pass?" Randolph ... cough ... excuse me!
The Nuggets do however possess the ability to offer something Memphis loves ... the chance to save money! Memphis recently traded for Randolph and his contract that will pay him roughly $33 million over the next two seasons. Aside from him the only other horrible contract on the books comes in the form of Marko Jaric who is owed $7.1 million this season and $7.6 million for the 2010-11 season.
Denver could potentially offer up say Malik Allen's ($1.3 million) and Steven Hunter's ($3.7 million) expiring contracts and take on Gasol and Jaric who have a combined number of $10.3 million next season. Denver could take on the extra $5.3 million with their $8.7 million trade exception. Although this deal would work ... I'm not sure Memphis wants a straight salary dump and the bad press once again, but funnier things have happened.