The loss of Mike Conley Jr. has been a disaster for the Memphis Grizzlies, as expected, and could lead to a trade of three-time All-Star center Marc Gasol. Gasol was benched for the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s stunning home loss to the 7-12 Brooklyn Nets, with Memphis’ top big expressing his displeasure by fuming afterward to The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, “I’m sure they wouldn’t do it to Mike (Conley)." Gasol added: “Obviously, it’s a situation I’m not used to, and I don’t want to get used to – ever. … I hate not playing. That’s what I value most. I’m not on the floor, it means I’m not valued." With the Grizzlies losing eight straight games after a 7-4 start, they shocked much of the NBA by firing coach Dave Fizdale on Monday and elevating assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff to interim head coach to finish out the season. Fizdale was expecting to be given a chance to see what he could do after getting back Conley, the team's playmaker and its most important player. But he had trouble handling Gasol over the last two seasons and that is said to have played a large role in his downfall, according to industry sources. Coaching changes can sometimes lead to a turnaround, but this team, now in 12th place in the West, needs Conley more than any other player to win. His return from an Achilles injury is unknown. So the Grizzlies' chances of snagging one of the final playoff berths and qualifying for their eighth straight postseason appearance take a hit with every new loss. The schedule is brutal in the upcoming two weeks: two games against the Spurs, road games against the Cavaliers and Knicks, and other contests against Minnesota, Toronto, Oklahoma City and Miami. All but Oklahoma City, recent victors against the Warriors, have a winning record and are in the playoffs in the East or West. If Conley makes it back soon and can stay on the floor, the Grizzlies might just go with the status quo. They've already posted three wins against Houston and Golden State, the West's top two teams. But if there are more problems for Conley with his troublesome heel, that may spur the team to deal Gasol and start rebuilding. He has the most value of any of Memphis' top players, along with the most reasonable contract, with two seasons to go at $49.7 million. Conley still has three seasons left, at $97 million. Oft-injured Chandler Parsons has two years, at $49.2 million.
Memphis Trade Gasol?, Raptors, Cavs Seen As Viable Options
Forbes.com | Nov 28