Despite Kawhi Leonard’s departure this summer, the Toronto Raptors are not about to do anything drastic with their roster.
Sean Deveney of Heavy.com reported on Friday that teams have reached out to the Raptors about potential trades for their veteran players Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka but have been turned down. Deveney adds that Toronto has a rebuilding plan that does not include tanking.
Amid Leonard leaving for the LA Clippers after delivering the Raptors their first-ever NBA title in June, the team went out and signed the likes of Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. They have also reportedly started talks with new franchise cornerstone Pascal Siakam about a potential extension.
Though the Raptors have been getting disrespected everywhere lately, they did go 17-5 in the 22 games that Leonard sat for load management last season, so it makes sense for them to see what they have in their remaining core.
Amid a mass exodus of superstars and other high-caliber players this summer, Team USA just lost their first game on the international stage in 13 years. They are getting no sympathy from Marc Gasol however.
In an ESPN interview this week, the Spanish center spoke on the relatively dire straits for the depleted Americans in the wake of their loss in exhibition play to the Australian Boomers.
“I think all teams miss people,” said Gasol, per EuroHoops. “Obviously, Team USA has so many great names that it’s different for them but also, they have a lot of talent coming up. There’s always a time of transition for teams, maybe for them it’s been all at once but at some point, there’s always that point of transition. I don’t feel bad for them because they still have a whole bunch of talent coming up.
“We miss [Nikola] Mirotic, [Serge] Ibaka, Pau [Gasol], Sergio Rodriguez, [Alex] Abrines,” added Gasol about the Spanish team. “We miss a whole bunch of guys. To me, it’s all excuses if you want to make them. With the void of some players comes an opportunity for other players to step up.”
Of course, the 34-year-old Gasol has suffered plenty heartbreak at the hands of Team USA over the years. The most notable ones came in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics as well as at the 2014 FIBA World Cup when the United States won the tournament with Spain as the host nation.
In any case though, Spain is not the only team that appears to be relishing in the vulnerability of Team USA heading into this year’s World Cup.
Marc Gasol won his first career NBA title with the Toronto Raptors last month, but it actually would not have happened had he gotten his own way.
Speaking with reporters in Europe this week, the veteran center spoke about how he wanted to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“There have been few players that haven’t been traded over the years in the NBA,” said Gasol, per Alex Madrid of EuroHoops. “If it had been depended on me, I wouldn’t have been traded. I always thought I could reverse the situation there and bring the team to the top. But, thank God, they ignored me.”
The 34-year-old Gasol had been a Grizzlies lifer before being dealt to Toronto at the February trade deadline, spending the first ten seasons of his career with them. The team is rebuilding now however and parted ways with all of Gasol’s other Grit N Grind-era teammates as well, including Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley.
As for Gasol himself, he seemed antsy for an NBA title while still in Memphis. Now that he has successfully captured one with the Raptors, it’s safe to say that the split worked out well for both sides.
The Toronto Raptors were dealt a major blow last week when Kawhi Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, but that does not mean they are giving up on contending in the Eastern Conference next season.
Several of Toronto’s key players — Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka — are set to become free agents a year from now, which has led to speculation that the Raptors might explore trade possibilities for one or more of them. TSN’s Josh Lewenberg reports that Masai Ujiri has no plans to hold a fire sale and would prefer to see things through.
The Raptors have no plans to trade vets Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka (all on expiring deals) ahead of the season, I’m told. As he’s done previously, Masai is expected to give his team an opportunity to sink or swim before choosing a path and deciding on its future.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) July 10, 2019
Leonard may be gone, but the East is wide open. While the Raptors would have been the clear favorite if Leonard returned, the NBA Finals MVP went to a Western Conference team. Kyrie Irving also left the Boston Celtics to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, who will be without Kevin Durant for the entire 2019-20 season. The Philadelphia 76ers added Al Horford, but they lost Jimmy Butler. The Milwaukee Bucks lost Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers. There are a handful of teams that could win the East, and the Raptors are still one of them.
Ujiri knew all offseason that Leonard leaving was a strong possibility, but that didn’t stop him from making some big promises for the future. There’s no need for a total rebuild, especially with how things stand elsewhere in the East.
The New Orleans Pelicans may not be done with their busy offseason overhaul.
According to Fletcher Mackel of WDSU, the Pelicans have discussed pursuing center Marc Gasol if he becomes a free agent. The big catch is that Gasol would have to opt out of his contract with the Toronto Raptors, which may be unlikely.
One day to pay attention to this week.
Thursday, June 27th.
That’s when Marc Gasol has to opt into or out of the final year of his contract.
Most expect him to opt in, but if he becomes free agent, NBA source tells me: “Pelicans have had conversations about landing him.” pic.twitter.com/wEVNOXL3wz
— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherWDSU) June 22, 2019
Gasol could be a productive player, plus a veteran mentor to the likes of Zion Williamson on what will be a young squad. If nothing else, it’s a sign that the Pelicans aren’t quite done despite a very busy and successful offseason whether Gasol becomes available or not.
DeMarcus Cousins is questionable for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night and seems like a good bet to play at some point in the series, but that should not intimidate the Toronto Raptors. After all, they did begin preparing to face him nearly four months ago.
The Raptors made a major move to bolster their frontcourt when they acquired Marc Gasol at the trade deadline back in February, and Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reports that they made that deal with a potential finals matchup against the Warriors in mind. More specifically, they believed Gasol would help them contain Cousins.
Gasol, the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 8.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in the playoffs so far. He averaged 13.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game during the regular season, so he clearly makes a significant impact. Cousins probably will not be his usual self as he continues to recover from a torn quad muscle, but the Raptors have a much better chance of limiting his impact now that they have Gasol.
From the Warriors’ perspective, getting Cousins back would basically be a bonus. They have already shown that they can dominate without him, and they have overcome one of the most significant injuries of the year to get to the point that they are at now. Even if Gasol goes toe-to-toe with Cousins, we all know Golden State can beat you a number of different ways.
It’s easy to forget now, but Marc Gasol was very briefly a member of the Los Angeles Lakers at the start of his NBA career. They selected him in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft, and ultimately traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008 in a trade that brought his brother Pau to Los Angeles.
What does Gasol remember about that time? Not a lot, except for some oversized sweaters.
Marc Gasol on being a Laker, briefly: "Yeah for a few, couple of months I was, I guess. They sent me oversized sweaters and stuff. You could say I was a Laker (laughs). I was not on the payroll though." Said he visited Pau at Finals to soak it all in once back in the day.
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) May 26, 2019
Gasol has come a long way since then. Ultimately, it’s a case where there are probably no regrets for either side, as Pau forged an impressive legacy with the Lakers while Marc carved out an excellent career in Memphis and now Toronto. Plus, he got an amusing memory out of that time.