What the Return of Gasol Means for Memphis

Marc Gasol was never really expected to leave Memphis this summer, but nonetheless Memphis fans breathed a huge sigh of relief when Gasol announced he was signing a max deal with the Grizzlies.  Marc moved to Memphis when his brother Pau was a member of the Grizzlies.  Marc played his high school ball at a local high school in Memphis.  Marc has only been in Memphis for about half of his life, but Memphis has become his home.  He indicates that he loves the city, and his family is happy in Memphis.  Marc’s draft rights were attained from the L.A. Lakers as part of the deal that sent his brother to Hollywood.  Pau got out of Memphis and earned himself a ring, and some Grizz fans were worried that Marc would leave too.  Marc is not Pau though; he does not want a bunch of attention, Marc just wants to win.  Gasol staying in Memphis proves that he really thinks he can win there.

Keeping Gasol is big for the Grizzlies for the present as well as the future.  Gasol returning gives this grit and grind team another chance to make a playoff run together.  Tony Allen and Zach Randolph are nearing the end of their careers, but they aren’t finished yet.  Both can still be major contributors on an elite team, but neither can be the superstar.  Marc Gasol, along with Mike Conley, are the superstars that Allen and Randolph need to maximize their contributions.  Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been one of, if not the best, big men combo in the NBA in recent years.  Without Gasol coming back, Randolph would not be nearly as effective as he is now.  Defenders have to guard Gasol which gives Randolph more space to work with, and it makes it harder to double him.

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are best friends off the court and it really shows on the court.  The Conley/Gasol pick and roll is hard to stop, and has won the Grizzlies quite a few games in recent years.  Gasol said in his press conference that his relationship with Conley is what sealed the deal on him returning to Memphis.  Gasol said he made a deal with Conley that if he re-signs with Memphis this summer, Conley will re-sign with Memphis next summer.  Conley will be a highly sought after free agent next summer, but if he keeps his word he will stay in the bluff city.  With Gasol, and likely Conley, locked up for the foreseeable future, the Grizzlies have their core to build around.  As Randolph and Allen wind their careers down, Memphis can plug in new pieces around Conley and Gasol to remain contenders.  As long as Gasol and Conley are in a Grizzlies uniform, Memphis will be a legitimate contender.

The return of Marc Gasol is also huge for the Memphis community and all of Grizz Nation.  Normally the stars that end up in Memphis try to leave when they get the chance.  Pau Gasol was the face of the franchise but he bailed and went on to win a championship in L.A.  John Calipari coached the Memphis Tigers before he landed the University of Kentucky job.  Calipari was seconds away from beating Kansas in the national championship game, but he left for Kentucky and has won a championship and almost went undefeated last season.  Just yesterday the news broke about Austin Nichols wanting to transfer out of the University of Memphis.  Nichols is the Tigers’ best player, and he grew up in Memphis.  Finally a big star decides to stay in Memphis, and try to bring a championship home.  Maybe this will finally be the city of Memphis’ time to shine.  Good luck Marc Gasol, and thanks for staying.

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