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Don't get too excited, but Memphis Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol just followed Kyrie Irving on Instagram.


When it comes to basketball media, even simple acts like this may actually signify a statement by the athlete. They may also mean next to nothing. One of the greatest minds of the last century once said, "Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.", and in this case, I think the saying applies. Of course, that great mind was Sigmund Freud, who made his chops deciphering what the human mind was up to underneath the surface, so I could be wrong by the same logic.Should we be raising our collective eyebrows (and hopes) after catching this juicy tidbit (or worthless crumb?) of info? Let's take a look.

Marc is a rarity, an old-school mountain of a man who reinvented his game in the nick of time, just as the market collapsed for such players at the highest levels of play in the league. While he's been shooting the three since 2011, it wasn't really a part of his game until last season, where he more than quadrupled his career three-point attempts in just that season alone, trying for 268 of which he made 104 - a lethal .388 from deep - placing him among the league's leading bigs shooting significant attempts from beyond the arc (maybe we should call him "Arc" Gasol now?).


Seeing as while father time is starting to show cracks in his bread-and-butter skills (he was down to 6.3 boards and 1.3 blocks per game from career averages of 7.6 and 1.5 per game, respectively), this was a most welcome addition to his skillset, promising to carry his career forward for perhaps several seasons beyond what his body might otherwise let him, with his scoring and passing actually taking a big step forward, jumping to 19.5 points and 4.6 assists per game, both career highs for an injury-prone big man who will be nearly 33 by the time the season starts.

In theory, such a player makes sense in a vacuum on any modern NBA team, as this new wrinkle gives scoring and spacing to a starting unit without giving up rim protection, rebounding or passing much. But does he make sense for the Boston Celtics?

First of all, let's look at the money. Gasol has two more guaranteed seasons at a relatively decent-value deal, about $23 million next year and $24 million the year after, with a third season on a nearly $26 million-dollar player option afterward you would assume he'd pick up, as even the best young bigs who can shoot threes consistently may struggle to find that kind of money in a cap-clogged league. Memphis loves him, and he loves Memphis, so any deal isn't coming cheap to a team that will need butts in seats while it struggles through what's likely to be a slow and painful rebuild. And while Boston still has a fair amount of shiny assets in the draft pick department, it's lost a lot of flexibility in the roster composition department.

What I mean by this is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of the NBA limits teams who are over the cap to deals within 125% plus $100,000 in most circumstances, which limits what packages of players could be included to deal for Marc by Boston. So, for example, if Danny Ainge were dumb enough to want to trade Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart for Gasol, it still couldn't happen because of their salaries being so far apart - about $15 million combined to Gasol's $23. However, teams may add up to $3.5 million per year to deals in cash, so using almost all of that would in fact get them within CBA-legal range.

That said, nobody is proposing such a package - even a half-decade younger on Gasol's end, that would probably be an overpay. But does a deal exist that makes sense for both sides?


Positionally speaking, including Al Horford in a deal might make sense salary-wise too - but would it be an upgrade? Right now, Al is making a hair over $5 million more, and puts up 6.8 boards, 5.0 assists, 1.3 blocks and 14.0 points per game while shooting .355 from beyond the arc. Compared to Marc's 6.3 boards, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and 19.5 points per game with .388 shooting from three, there's not a lot of difference on the surface, aside from $5 million in salary. Both players have durability issues, but Horford's have been unusual or circumstantial (such as last season's concussion), whereas Gasol's have been mostly foot-related, a development that can crush a big man's career in a hurry. Both players are under contract for at least two more seasons (and probably three).


Is it worth the risk of a precipitous decline and/or alienating future free agents to save five or so million a season? While the notion of a little more firepower without losing much else is certainly interesting, I'm not so sure it is. We've already stretched the professionalism of this team to its limits with roster moves this summer, and I'm not sure Boston's reputation could recover from another such move, particularly when the move is not a slam-dunk as-is, and would likely be vetoed without at least one likely lottery pick.

A package of Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, Guerschon Yabusele, Terry Rozier, Shane Larkin and cash could also get the deal done in theory, but such a move would gut the already-thin depth of the roster severely, and even when sweetened by any of the draft picks controlled by the Celts apart from the pick acquired from dealing back in the draft with the Philadelphia 76ers, looks unlikely to be the sort of haul the Grizzlies would want to start rebuilding in earnest. So, sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but I'm going to have to say barring any more unexpected surprises, this deal looks D.O.A.


For more stories about the offseason on CelticsLife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.



Image: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Data: basketball-reference.com
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 9/03/2017 02:42:00 PM Edit
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