This morning at Campbell Clinic, Marc underwent a thorough evaluation by team physicians. During the course of this evaluation, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a fracture in his right foot.
Marc is a cornerstone of our franchise, and we are focused on getting him healthy. Marc will be out indefinitely and a further update will be provided after the All-Star Break.
Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal initially reported the news. He noted the big man could miss the rest of the 2015-16 campaign with the “mid-foot fracture.”
Memphis head coach Dave Joerger commented on the setback, per Tillery:
It’s certainly not great for Marc and his family. I know he’s disappointed. It’s bad for our team. This is a tight bunch of dudes. They care about each other. It hurts everybody. Marc is a guy who lays it out there for his teammates and the fans. We’re going to fight, scratch and claw.
Gasol said he was playing through pain following a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, per Tillery:
I have some issues, but you have to push through it. I’m never going to use not being 100 percent as an excuse. It’s just not me. I’m going to push through it and give whatever I have to my team. That’s how I’ve always been, and that’s how it’s going to be.
This is a devastating blow for a Grizzlies squad that was making a charge in the top-heavy Western Conference. While they have lost their past two games, they were 11-2 in their prior 13 contests and sit in fifth place in the conference at 30-22.
Memphis is also in a difficult situation because it is already missing Brandan Wright in the frontcourt due to knee surgery. Luckily, Wright is expected to return "right around the All-Star break," according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical.
Gasol is a two-time All-Star and the team’s leading scorer (16.6 points a night) and second-leading rebounder (seven boards a game). He is one of the primary driving forces of the offense because of his versatility from the center position. He can pass from the high post, get involved in pick-and-pops with point guard Mike Conley and score on the low block if needed.
However, the Grizzlies may miss his defense more than anything else. The 2012-13 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is one of the premier interior defenders in the league for a Grizzlies team that is sixth in the NBA in points allowed per game.
According to NBA.com, opponents are shooting 7.6 percentage points below than their normal averages within 10 feet of the basket and 6.5 percentage points worse within six feet when Gasol guards them.
The Grizzlies could turn to Ryan Hollins as an option down low in Gasol’s absence, although he is only averaging 3.1 points and 2.2 rebounds a night as a moderate contributor off the bench. They also have 6’9” JaMychal Green, who is averaging 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.5 minutes a game. The sophomore will likely see an uptick in playing time without Gasol.
Memphis may also have to use 6’9” Zach Randolph in a pseudo-center role in a smaller lineup, at least for large stretches in games. It has a number of wing players to trot out alongside Conley, including Tony Allen, Jeff Green, Matt Barnes, Vince Carter and Courtney Lee, so it can at least stretch the floor with those combinations.
Those pieces may be able to keep the Grizzlies in the postseason picture in the Western Conference, but Gasol is one of the NBA’s best centers and gives his team its best opportunity to advance in the postseason. Memphis needs him back if it hopes to challenge the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs.