Everybody’s forgotten about Pau Gasol. Do you remember what it was like to be Pau Gasol in Memphis?
3SOB: I remember how most of the fans felt about him…
MH: Exactly. Everybody was telling me “I don’t care what you get for him. Just get rid of him.” I kept saying I think he’s one of the best big men in the NBA, getting double and triple teamed every night. If he played somewhere else he’d be a star. He’s one of the best big men in the league.
Nobody wanted to hear that. They just wanted me to get rid of him. It was everywhere in the media and people were booing him. It was just tearing his heart out. He liked Memphis. His family was working for St. Jude’s. His brother was going to school here. That family likes Memphis. We had everything going for them but the pressure on him was huge. At that point I made a decision.
Marc Gasol is playing the best ball of any player for the Memphis Grizzlies. Wait a second. Really listen to me, here. 16.5 points on 9.6 shots per 40, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists for a center, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per 40. A 20.45 PER (!), a TS of 66% forÂ center, shooting 73% at the rim (!), and 63.6% from 16-23 feet (!). 61% from the floor overall. And he’s been absolutely murdering teams in a billion ways. Post defense, man defense, pick and roll, setting screens, running the floor, finding teammates. He’s been incredible.
And you can tell no one is noticing, least of all Memphis.
The fans in Memphis are a touchy subject for the fans of Memphis. They don’t want to go right out and say it, but multiple people have told me that they feel it’s unlikely a white, European player will ever be popular in Memphis. And you could argue the same is true in most cities, Dirk being the modern exception. But it is concerning when you think about how this whole thing will play out?
How does Marc feel about playing in Memphis? He kills himself for that team, and genuinely seems to like his teammates. Does he feel the same way about Memphis that his brother (now) does, and just hides it? Pau has gone out of his way to make passively disparaging remarks about Memphis since he hit the big time. Do they argue about it at home? Does Pau tell Marc he should try and get traded? Does he tell him to not sign an extension?
Seeing Gasol follow Pau to some big name team would be soul-crushing to me personally, even if it might be the best thing for him professionally. The only thing worse would be losing him back to Spain, like friend of the family, JCN.Â But you have to consider it a possibility. After all, even as Heisley praises him, he defends drafting Hasheem Thabeet, and talks up Randolph. Marc Gasol is the cornerstone of this franchise, but of course, management may be too blind to see it. Again.