Raptors finalizing deal to acquire Gasol from Memphis

Florence Fletcher
February 9, 2019

The Utah Jazz have been relentless in their pursuit of Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, despite being fully aware of his preference to play for an Eastern Conference team, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Gasol, 34, is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and a career-high 4.7 assists (which ranks second among National Basketball Association centers, trailing only Nikola Jokic's 7.7).

They tried to rebuild around Conley and Gasol, who had been among just six active National Basketball Association players to spend their entire National Basketball Association careers of at least 10 seasons with one franchise. Two days later, Memphis traded away its career leader in points, rebounds and blocks to at least get something in case Gasol opted out this summer.

The 76ers and Bucks were both big players before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline, the Sixers landing Tobias Harris and Milwaukee acquiring Nikola Mirotic.

The seven-foot-one Spaniard, who played all 11 of his National Basketball Association seasons in Memphis, is slated to make US$24.1 million this season and has a player option for $25.6 million next season.

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And Conley's tenure might only last the rest of this season. Gasol, while at 34 is eight years older than the big Lithuanian, is a three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, and a former Defensive Player of the Year. The amount of his bonus (if not waived) will be applied to his $24.1 million salary. But Conley is due $67 million over the final two seasons of the max contract he signed in July 2016, making a trade tougher to piece together.

Valanciunas is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds while Wright is scoring 6.9 points per game and Miles is putting up 5.5 points. The 26-year, who was drafted by Toronto fifth overall in 2011, was finally cleared to play Thursday after missing 25 games with a dislocated left thumb.

Miles, 31, is averaging 5.5 points and 1.7 rebounds this season.

In parting ways with Valanciunas, the Raptors lose a genuinely likeable big man, a guy who had become a franchise great somewhat by virtue of having been a long-serving member of the team during the best era in its history.

Memphis also waived forward Omri Casspi to get its roster down to the National Basketball Association limit of 15.

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