Amidst all the drama and speculation surrounding the future of Kevin Love, it’s refreshing to hear an NBA All-Star break from the caustic character of his peers and declare—oh so boringly—that he likes it where he is, thank you very much.
“I’ve always said Memphis is my home away from home,” Gasol recently told Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (h/t to Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin). “Robert (Pera, Grizzlies owner) knows that. I know that. My teammates know that and that’s all that matters. I live day to day but I don’t see myself anywhere else.”
Every NBA player asked about his future plans manages to throw in some sort of vague caveat. Something about doing what’s best for the family or making the best business decision—that sort of thing.
Gasol, by contrast, really does seem genuine in his desire to stick around West Tennessee for a while. It really is his “home away from home,” after all: He moved to Memphis with his parents when he was 15, shortly after his brother, Pau Gasol, was drafted by the Grizzlies.
While Gasol has the option to sign an extension with Memphis, it makes more sense for him to play out the final year of his deal (worth $15.8 million) and survey the scene the following summer.
At that point, the Grizzlies stand to have only $23 million in committed salaries, meaning Gasol will likely have a significant say in which free agents the team chooses to target.
But as CBS Sports’ James Herbert notes, the Grizzlies have to get their own front-office house in order if they hope to build anything resembling a stable franchise:
Still, the Grizzlies do need to make sure they don't mess this up. They've had a chaotic offseason, with their CEO and assistant general manager walking out the door and their head coach coming close to following them. Zach Randolph could potentially go somewhere else this summer, though it sounds like that would be unlikely. Ed Davis can be a restricted free agent this offseason, too.
When it's time to negotiate with Gasol, he will need to believe that things are stable and he can win a championship in Memphis. Being comfortable and loyal sounds great now, but there is still some pressure on the Grizzlies.
With head coach Dave Joerger set to return for his second season, the Grizzlies boast a promising skipper with one 50-win season already under his belt.
That, coupled with arguably the best one-two frontcourt punch in the game in Gasol and Zach Randolph—who is expected to exercise his own $16 million player option for next season—is a stable enough basketball base on which to build something solid and sustainable.
Hopefully that continues to include arguably the most versatile center in the game.