Pau by Marc Gasol: from a source of ridicule to being a perfect transfer

On February 1, 2008, Spanish basketball would change in a transfer that is history: Pau Gasol to the Lakers and Marc's rights to the Grizzlies.


On February 1, 2008, the history of Spanish basketball suddenly changed forever. Pau Gasol was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Lakers along with a second round of the 2010 draft (it ended up being Devin Ebanks) and in exchange for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol and two draft rounds: the first of 2008 (the Grizzlies chose Donte Green) and first of 2010 (Greivis Vasquez). At that time, the transfer was considered an absolute theft by some Lakers whose general manager, Mitch Kupchak, scored one of the great goals of his career in the offices: “Pau is an all-star player who can score and rebound and who he is still young. We believe that this movement makes us stronger in the short and long term ”. At that time it was difficult for many to give credit to the operation that the Lakers had sneaked into the Tennessee team. And that transfer was in fact taken as an example of looting and an object of ridicule. At the head a Gregg Popovich to whom the rearmament of the Angelenos cost a remarkable price in the fight for the hierarchy of the West. Even when asked later if Marc's extraordinary evolution made the deal fairer, he narrowed his eyes and replied a simple "please ... please."

Popovich was thinking at the time of being an NBA champion and barely looking at the rebuilding of the Memphis Grizzlies. However, now that transfer that involved the two Gasols is considered a perfect operation for both parties, one that even changed the way the franchises work and, finally, one that recalled that the short-term analysis is not always fair in these cases. And that, above all, there does not always have to be a loser in transfers.Context and ideal moment ). Then came a 22-60 season (with Gasol missing the first 23 games due to the foot injury he suffered at the World Cup in Japan) followed by a dismal 13-33 when the transfer was announced. The Memphis public had turned their backs on a Spanish power forward who was pursued more than at any other time by that soft-playing sanbenito in an environment in which the return to the catacombs of the NBA was experienced with enormous frustration. Pau Gasol's last game with the Grizzlies (January 28) was a sign that the transfer was the best route for all parties: 84-103 at home against the Mavericks, 13 points and 5 rebounds for Sant Boi's.

In parallel, the Lakers were experiencing a rebound to some degree unexpected. The final lost in 2004 was followed by a year without a playoffs and two with first-round losses. But that February 28-15 came thanks to the renewal of his relationship with Kobe Bryant and the explosion of Andrew Bynum, who suffered a serious knee injury ... precisely against the Memphis Grizzlies. Months before Kobe had accepted the speculation of a possible transfer to some Bulls that, more communicating vessels, had also entangled in the situation of a Pau Gasol who ended up playing in Chicago seven years later. Pau Gasol debuted with the Lakers in Newark, still the New Jersey Nets track, with 24 points and 12 rebounds for a win (90-105) that was part of a ten-game winning streak that returned the smile to Kobe Bryant, who had ridden Another public fire when, a year earlier, the Lakers failed to send 19-year-old Bynum to those same Nets in exchange for Jason Kidd.

The Lakers' return to glory

The Lakers continued to grow and closed the season 27-9 since the transfer and with a 57-25 total that made them leaders in the West and put them back in the NBA final. That year they fell in six games against the Celtics but linked another two finals, settled with two rings: 4-1 against the Magic in 2009 and 4-3 against the Celtics in 2010, with their first seventh game won in a final against the eternal rival of the Atlantic. Gasol was an all-star in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and touched the MVP level in the final against the Celtics (18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 blocks per game). And, like a year earlier against Dwight Howard, he shook off the soft stigma in an anthology fight against the Garnett, Wallace and Perkins. Andrew Bynum played that final but did so greatly diminished by, once again, some finally fatal knee problems.So it is obvious that the Lakers got what they wanted with the transfer, no matter how much that choice that Devin Ebanks was (three years in Los Angeles without ever passing 16.5 minutes and 4 average points per game). In fact, Pau Gasol could have been an essential piece in the next evolution of the franchise had his departure from the Houston Rockets not been vetoed in the operation that was to make Chris Paul a point guard for the Lakers. Aborted by David Stern, as an impromptu patron of some headless New Orleans Hornets, that frustrated move was one of the engines of the crazy chaos that was the franchise in the following years: six in a row without playoffs, the never seen before, until the arrival of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the return to the top, last October in the Florida bubble. The 17th ring of the Angelenos.

Marc, a pillar in the best Grizzlies

But the true revisionist analysis affects, of course, the Memphis Grizzlies. Probably because at the time it was almost impossible (more on that side of the Atlantic) to calculate the impact it was going to have on the history of the franchise Marc Gasol (number 48 in the 2007 draft), who had been world champion in 2006 and that Yes, he closed the ACB cycle in Girona with a monstrous season in which he was MVP in eleven rounds (16.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and a PIR of 27.8 per game). Since then Marc has been three times all star, NBA Best Defender (2013), member of the Best Quintet (2015) and, of course, champion, already in 2019 and after being sent from Memphis to Toronto. And he is considered, by consensus, one of the best pure centers in the League in the last decade. Evidence of the Tennessee romance: $ 58 million for four years in 2011 and the historic contract of more than 110 million for five seasons that he signed in the summer of 2015. Marc's Grizzlies were seven straight seasons in the playoffs (they played the West final in 2013) and four above 60% wins in Regular Season. An impact that was impossible to assess, especially if the other pieces of the Gasol transfer were taken into account: 444 444

-Kwame Brown, one of the worst draft No. 1s ever (2001), brought Memphis a good contract to win future salary space (9.1 million expiring that June 2008). He only played 204 minutes with the Grizzlies before leaving the following season, and as a free agent, for the Detroit Pistons.

-Javaris Crittenton had been number 19 in the 2007 draft and played 35 games with the Grizzlies before leaving for Washington (where he ended a battered NBA career shortly after) in a multiple transfer on December 10, 2008. Right now he is serving time. 23 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder.

-Aaron McKie was a veteran with 13 years of experience in the NBA who had not played that season with the Lakers and did not play with the Grizzlies who cut him on May 9, 2008.

-As for the rookies who came out of the two draft rounds that the Grizzlies received, Donte Greene was traded on the same night of the draft to the Houston Rockets in a multiple operation in which the Tennessee team took Darrell Arthur. Greivis Vasquez played 70 games with the franchise and on December 24, 2011 he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for Quincy Pondexter.

The success of the Grizzlies, rooted in this operation, ended up being undoubted. After two seasons in a row at 22-60, they signed another 24-58. It was the first with Marc (2008-09). In the following they reached 40 wins and from the beginning of 2010-11 they had a Regular Season balance of 248-146, among the five best in the NBA in that five-year period. An unquestionable success based on sports stability (with Mike Conley and Marc as references) and the creation of a style (the grit and grind) that began with Lionel Hollins and continued with Dave Joerger: defense, hard and very physical play, a lot of old school and maximum competition every night. The end of the project began with the departure of Tony Allen and Zach Randolph and ended with the goodbye of Marc and Mike Conley. The Spanish pivot was transferred in February 2019 to the Toronto Raptors, a franchise that saw options to do something great (he did it) with Kawhi Leonard as a fleeting franchise player. The Grizzlies brought CJ Miles, Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and a second round of the draft. And Marc avoided the rumored trade to the less competitive Hornets and fit like a glove on a Raptors who were champions just four months later.

After proclaiming himself champion of the NBA, Marc won the World Cup like Spain after availing himself of the player option of his last year of contract. He remained in Toronto in exchange for 25.5 million dollars and this fall, finally as a free agent, he decided to close the circle of the Gasols: he signed for two seasons in the Lakers, the team that drafted him and sent him to Memphis in the operation by Pau. And he looks there, along with LeBron and Davis, for his second ring, the same ring that his brother won ... also with the Los Angeles franchise and after a transfer that went from being teased to a perfect operation. This is the NBA.

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