Five Minutes with Marc Gasol
Marc discusses his desire to stay in Memphis and the fate of Ricky Rubio.
by Nima Zarrabi / @NZbeFree
With extensions to Rudy Gay and Mike Conley complete, the Memphis Grizzles have shifted their focus to the fates of big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Randolph is an unrestricted free agent next year. At the end of last season, the 29-year-old veteran post mentioned that he is seeking a contract similar to the three-year $57 million extension Pau Gasol signed with the Lakers.
Marc Gasol is in his third season with Memphis and will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. The 7-footer is 25 years old, coming off a solid second year where he dropped 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Even as an RFA, he will command serious interest. He has parted ways with agent Herb Rudoy and is likely seeking an extension similar to the contract Chris Kaman received from the Clippers a few years back — five years for $52.5 million. Kaman averaged 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds the season prior to signing his extension.
Marc was slowed early this season by a high ankle sprain he sustained before the opener but he has fought through, posting per game averages of 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Following the Grizzles’ 84-83 victory over the Clippers on Saturday, we had a chance to chat with the talented big man.
SLAM: You got hacked a bunch out there today. Do you think you’re getting the calls this season?
Marc Gasol: Yeah, definitely. I think down there, it’s a physical game. Big guys and you have to be ready to compete. We’re not going to complain about calls. That’s part of the game.
SLAM: What are your impressions of Blake Griffin?
MG: He’s a great player already but he’s going to be a lot better. He has all the right tools and he’s going to figure out more stuff about himself as he goes along. With more games, he will learn more and more. I think he’s going to be a star in this League for sure. He’s strong, he’s physical and he’s supposed to be when you play down there.
SLAM: Are you happy with your performance so far this season?
MG: I don’t look at myself that way. I like to see how the team is doing. If the team is doing well, then I’m doing well. If the team isn’t doing well, then I feel like I can do more. That’s how I measure up. The team has been up and down and so I’ve been up and down too.
SLAM: You’re in a contract year. Have you had any discussions with the team about an extension?
MG: No. I’m really happy where I am at. As a rule, the team cannot speak to me right now, so I’m not going to worry about it before the July 1 deadline. When July 1 comes I will worry about it. Right now, I try to enjoy every moment with everyone out there and that’s it.
SLAM: So your focus hasn’t changed as far as wanting to have a great season. This is standard procedure for you.
MG: You need to. It’s basketball. I know I’m in a good position for next year and my next deal. I’m going to be alright.
SLAM: Do you see Memphis as a community you would like to stay in and is this team moving in the right direction, where you would want to be here?
MG: You have to understand that I played high school ball in Memphis. I played two years. I grew up in Memphis. I feel like I’m a part of the community. My family has been there for 10 years. The Grizzlies have been in Memphis for 10 years and my family has been there for all 10 of those years. So, we feel like a big part of the community but you never know what can happen.
SLAM: ESPN’s Outside the Lines recently did an update on your national teammate Ricky Rubio. It was focused on whether or not he will join the NBA next season. Do you think he will?
MG: It’s really up to him. He has a lot of good choices to make. He can stay in Barcelona where he’s been playing. He’s had success with the team and he’s still pretty young. He has many options and all of them seem pretty good to me.
SLAM: Do you think his game will translate here fairly easily?
MG: He has to. If you don’t translate, you’re going to be in trouble. He will. He’s a smart kid and he knows how to play basketball. In the end, it’s all basketball. He knows how to adjust to any kind of basketball.