Toronto’s Marc Gasol Preparing for Emotional First Matchup Against Former Memphis Grizzlies Team

Marc Gasol is preparing for an emotional first…

The 35-year-old Spanish professional basketball player, currently playing for the Toronto Raptors, is mentally preparing to face-off against his former team.

Marc Gasol,

Gasol played for parts of 11 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, going to three All-Star Games with the team’s jersey on his back, earning two All-NBA selections there and a Defensive Player of the Year award.

And now, he’ll play against his former team for the first time.

The Grizzlies face Gasol and the Raptors on Sunday. It’ll be the first game between the clubs since Gasol was traded to Toronto in February 2019 — a move that helped the Raptors win last season’s NBA championship.

Gasol said facing Memphis would be emotional.

“I got there when I was 16 years old. It was my first time out of Spain,” said Gasol, who still owns his Memphis home. “I started high school there as a teenager and left as a father of two kids. … My ties to the city and my roots go pretty deep and my love for the people there, what they mean and the franchise, it’s forever.”

Gasol helped Memphis make the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons including the 2013 run to the Western Conference finals. He’s the Grizzlies’ all-time leader for minutes played, field goals made, free throws made and attempted, rebounds, blocks and triple-doubles and is second in points — 49 behind Mike Conley.

The Raptors were supposed to have played back-to-back games against Memphis this season, going there on March 28 and then playing host to the Grizzlies March 30. Those games were called off due to the season suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously it’s a little bittersweet that we couldn’t play in the city of Memphis, to get that love and feel that Iove from the fans,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. “But I’m sure he’ll be happy to see some familiar faces and a lot of the people that he spent a lot of time with over the years.”

Gasol & the Memphis Grizzlies Agree to Five-Year Max Deal Worth $110 million

Marc Gasol will keep walking (and dribbling) in Memphis…

The 30-year-old Spanish professional basketball player and the Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to a five-year max contract worth an estimated $110 million, according to ESPN sources.

Marc Gasol

The deal includes a player option that would allow Gasol to opt out and become a free agent after the fourth year of the contract, according to sources.

The exact monetary value of the deal, which was agreed to Monday, will be determined by the league’s salary cap.

Gasol, as previously reported by ESPN, shunned the opportunity to let interested teams court him in free agency, signaling to the rest of the league ‎that he essentially was unavailable to everyone except Memphis.

‎Teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers‎, New York Knicks ‎and Milwaukee Bucks — all of whom had designs on making a run at the Spaniard in free agency — abandoned all plans to pitch Gasol before free agency began.

Players and teams can come to verbal agreements on deals, but no contracts can be formally signed until Thursday, when a leaguewide moratorium on roster business is lifted.

Gasol was selected with the 48th overall pick by the Lakers in the 2007 draft. In the 2008 deal that brought his brother Pau Gasol to the Lakers, Marc Gasol’s rights were sent to the Grizzlies.

In seven seasons with Memphis, Gasol has developed into one of the league’s premier big men, winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He was selected as first-team All-NBA last season, second-team All-NBA in 2014, and he has twice been named an All-Star (2012, ’15).

Gasol has averaged double-figure scoring in all seven of his NBA seasons, with a career-high 17.6 points per game last season in 81 games, all starts. He was regarded as the anchor of one of the league’s best defensive teams despite not being an elite rim protector (1.6 blocks per game last season).

Gasol was an integral piece to the Grizzlies’ rise, leading them to 55 wins last season and a first-round playoff victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Grizzlies have appeared in five consecutive postseasons and made it to the Western Conference finals in 2013 before bowing out in four games to the San Antonio Spurs.

In 2011, Gasol signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the Grizzlies.