MEMPHIS—Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol will make his first NBA All-Star Game start this weekend, his second appearance in the league’s showcase event.
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger told Breitbart Sports that Gasol starting for the West All-Stars is a “big deal” for the city of Memphis and for the Grizzlies organization.
“The league’s done a great job of promoting all of the players in [the] league,” said Joerger. “It’s so easy to say Oklahoma City is a small market [or] New Orleans or Memphis. That’s kinda going away now. The league is doing a great job of promoting the entire league and I think that’s great.”
As Gasol represents his small-market team in the All-Star Game at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony is recruiting big men to the Big Apple with Gasol as a prime target. A former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol is a prized commodity on the coming free-agent market and a hot topic in the rumor mills.
Reports surfaced last summer that the Knicks covet Gasol, who could be the missing link in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. The triangle relies on versatile big men who are skilled passers and shoot effectively from the mid-range. Gasol checks both boxes.
Knicks C/PF Amare Stoudemire’s $100 million contract will expire after this season, leaving the team approximately $33 million to pursue a max player, like Gasol, and another key contributor. New York guard Jose Calderon, under contract with the Knicks for the next two years, is Gasol’s teammate on the Spanish national team. Calderon is reportedly involved in courting Gasol.
The San Antonio Spurs are another potential destination for Marc Gasol. Tim Duncan’s contract expires at season’s end, leaving the Spurs without a dominant presence in the frontcourt. Gasol’s All-Star starter selection shows that he’s one of the best interior players in the league and a worthy successor to future Hall of Famer Duncan.
The Spurs will have approximately $36 million to spend in the free-agent market, but will have to re-sign forward Kawhi Leonard and other key peices. This season, Duncan and guard Tony Parker will earn a combined $23 million, meaning that Gasol likely won’t receive a max deal if he signs with the perennial championship-contending Spurs.
When contacted by Breitbart Sports, the Spurs declined to comment on any interest in Gasol citing NBA tampering rules.
Asked whether Gasol’s All-Star selection as a small-market player will help the Grizzlies re-sign him, Joerger responded: “We don’t talk about it.”