Marc Gasol Traded to Raptors from Grizzlies for Jonas Valanciunas, More

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2019

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) stands on the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

The Marc Gasol era in Memphis has drawn to a close.   

On Thursday, the Grizzlies traded Gasol to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a 2024 second-round pick, the Raptors announced

The New York Times' Marc Stein first reported the Grizzlies had started exploring trade possibilities "amid a growing belief around the league" that Gasol would decline his $25.6 million player option for the 2019-20 season in order to become a free agent. 

The Raptors are already all-in this season with Kawhi Leonard hitting free agency this summer. Trading for Gasol only further solidifies Toronto pushing its chips to the middle of the table for this season. 

An 11-year veteran, Gasol has solidified himself as one of the NBA's premier bigs over the past seven seasons, racking up three All-Star nods and a 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year honor during that stretch. 

Last season, Gasol continued to churn out big numbers as he averaged 17.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. 

According to Basketball-Reference.com, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins were the only other players to hit those statistical benchmarks during the 2017-18 campaign. 

This season, Gasol has maintained that standard of excellence. The Spaniard has been his usual stat-sheet stuffing self to the tune of  15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals a night.

That's production the Raptors will be thrilled to absorb into their starting lineup. The question moving forward, however, is if the big man will be a half-season rental or extend his stay in Toronto with questions lingering regarding his desire to hit the open market on July 1. 

However, that's clearly a risk the Raptors were willing to accept. 

As was the case when they acquired Leonard, the Raptors will keep their sights set on the franchise's first Eastern Conference title in the short term while hoping Gasol's half-season stay north of the border pays dividends and convinces him to extend his stay. 

But even if he doesn't, nabbing one of the game's most gifted big men with a Larry O'Brien Trophy in sight is an admirable home run swing by Masai Ujiri and Co.