Celtics Lead

Should Boston Join the Gasol Sweepstakes?

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On Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski dropped another signature “Woj bomb” on the basketball world. He announced via Twitter that the Memphis Grizzlies are preparing to enter a rebuild by taking trade calls for their two stars, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Both players have been on the team for the past 11 years, acting as the leaders of the “Grit N’ Grind” Grizzlies. However, after a dismal recent stretch, the front office clearly believes the era of Grit N’ Grind is coming to a close.

At 31 and 34, respectively, Conley and Gasol are both in the twilight of their basketball careers. Still, the two played highly productive basketball in the first half of the season and would be valuable additions to championship contenders. At the same time, both Conley and Gasol are on massive contracts that could become an eyesore in the future.

Could Either Player Help the Celtics?

The Celtics, meanwhile, have just hit their stride and are riding a four-game winning streak. They already have one of the NBA’s dominant floor generals in Kyrie Irving, so trading for Conley seems redundant.

Gasol on the other hand looks much more enticing. His production this year is extremely similar to that of Al Horford. Gasol has shot a solid 35% from downtown this season, a tick below Horford’s 36%. However, Gasol has outrebounded Horford (8.5 to 6.4), an area where the Celtics have struggled this season. He’s also posted a better assist percentage while maintaining a similar defensive impact.

Perhaps most importantly, Gasol’s contract runs the same length as Big Al’s, but is about $4.5 million cheaper per season. His player option is $25.5 million, which is no small sum, but also much less than Horford’s $30 million option for next season. The Celtics could sneak under the luxury tax by trading for Gasol without losing the Horford’s production.

What Could a Trade Look Like?

Of course, the Grizzlies need some youth to further their rebuild, right? Enter Terry Rozier. The score-first guard is struggling this year, but he’s shown plenty of promise dating back to last year’s playoffs. Assuming Mike Conley also gets dealt, Rozier immediately becomes the team’s point guard of the future. Here’s what the deal could be:

Grizzlies Acquire: C Al Horford, PG Terry Rozier, 2020 second-round draft pick

Celtics Acquire: C Marc Gasol, PG Shelvin Mack

This trade puts the Celtics under the luxury tax without losing much talent. By adding Shelvin Mack, the team also gets a serviceable backup for the playoffs who is on a league-minimum contract. Going forward, Mack would be an inexpensive player to re-sign or a glancing blow if lost. Al Horford may also be disgusted at the idea of staying with a rebuilding squad and decline his player option. This would give the Grizzlies even more cap space while allowing Horford to chase a ring.

It’s not every day that a star center who upgrades a weakness (rebounding) is available. Marc Gasol looks like an ideal fit in the defense-first Celtics, and could bring some of the Grit N’ Grind mentality to Boston.

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About Ethan Fuller

Hailing from Portsmouth, NH, Ethan is a journalism student at Boston University and writes about the Celtics for TLSM. His chief basketball teams are the Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Ethan is also a still-growing ultimate frisbee player.

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