When Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol reportedly expressed unhappiness this season, the Grizzlies responded by firing head coach David Fizdale. Speculation continues that the All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year remains on the market despite the coaching change. Gasol’s salary for the next two seasons—$22.64 million and $24.11 million, respectively—all but mandates a large contract coming back to Memphis in order for a trade to be consummated. Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report lists the Portland Trail Blazers among teams who have both the cap ballast and potential desire to do a deal.
Evan Turner’s contract is giving the Blazers the least return for the money spent of anyone on their roster. But Turner isn’t enough to lure someone of Gasol’s caliber, so Hughes presents a trade package of Turner, Jusuf Nurkic and 2019 second-round pick:
As productive as he's been since coming over from the Denver Nuggets last year, Jusuf Nurkic isn't on Gasol's level as a defender, floor-spacer or playmaker. For a Portland team that depends entirely on C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard for scoring and facilitation, it's hard to overstate how much relief Gasol's ability to function as a hub would offer.
Lillard and McCollum are both dynamite on the ball. You want them there as much as is reasonable. But Gasol's presence would weaponize both guards off the ball—which is only something that happens when the two play together.
Now, the Blazers could rest Lillard or McCollum with the security of knowing Gasol, a proven fulcrum, could be out there to help.
Memphis may not want Turner given his lack of production and contract’s size, but if Gasol is unhappy, or the Grizzlies want to hit the reset button, a deal like this gives them a rebuilding cornerstone in Nurkic. Yet, the Bosnian Beast is headed to restricted free agency this offseason, and the Grizzlies could end up paying him a fortune or losing him for nothing.
The 33-year-old Gasol is averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds per game for the Grizzlies this season. Nurkic is posting 15 and 8 for Portland while Turner adds 8 points and 4 rebounds. Of the three, only Nurkic tops 45% shooting from the field.
Does this deal make sense for either side? Is Nurkic someone the Blazers should refuse to trade under any circumstances? Would Gasol make the Blazers better competitors in a loaded Western Conference? Debate in the comments.