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.”

San Antonio Spurs Star Manu Ginobili Retires from the NBA

The time clock has run down for Manu Ginobili

The 41-year-old Argentine professional basketball player, a guard with the San Antonio Spurs since the 2002-2003 NBA season,announced Monday that he’s retiring.

Manu Ginobili

“Today, with a wide range of feelings, I’m announcing my retirement from basketball,” he announced in a tweet. “It’s been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams.”

Ginobili, a future Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, had been working out regularly at the Spurs’ practice facility as he considered his decision to retire.

The Spurs had been hopeful that Ginobili would want to return for a 17th season and allowed him to take all the time he needed to decide, league sources had told ESPN. The team thanked Ginobili in a tweet and video Monday.

His decision brings a historic 16-season run with the Spurs to an end. He is one of the most decorated international players in basketball history, a four-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist for Argentina and a EuroLeague MVP.

“An NBA champion and All-Star, Manu Ginobili is also a pioneer who helped globalize the NBA,” NBA commissioner Adam Silversaid. “He is one of basketball’s greatest ambassadors who believes in the power of sports to change lives. And for 16 years, we were fortunate to watch a legend compete at the highest level. Thank you, Manu, for a career that inspired millions of people around the world.”

Ginobili played 1,057 regular-season and 218 playoff games with the Spurs, ranking in the franchise’s top five all time in games, points (14,043), assists (4,001) and steals (1,392). He averaged 8.9 points and 20 minutes a game for the Spurs last season.

“A role model for all of us that love this wonderful sport,” Spurs forward Pau Gasol said.

Ginobili’s pro career lasted 23 seasons in all, starting with stints in Italy and Argentina. His drawing power was massive even in his final season, and it was common for him to spend plenty of time before road games posing for photos and signing autographs — often international fans proudly displaying an Argentine flag.

“He has the talent to continue playing for five years, but we have to respect his decision. Us Argentinians, we are so proud of him. We wish all the best in the new life,” said Juan Martin del Potro, who thanked Ginobili after his victory Monday at the US Open.

Ginobili had one year left on his contract, worth $2.5 million.

The smooth left-handed guard from Argentina came to San Antonio in 2002, forming what quickly became a powerful big three alongside Tim Duncanand Tony Parker. Now, they’ve all moved on: Duncan retired two years ago, Parker left San Antonio earlier this summer as a free agent to sign with the Charlotte Hornets, and Ginobili has worn Spurs colors for the last time as well.

“I had left the door open just in case, but now I am convinced and happy about the decision I made,” Ginobili said, as quoted in Argentina newspaper La Nacion.

Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard were the backbone of San Antonio’s drive to its most recent NBA championship in 2014, and this will be the first time Gregg Popovichbegins a season as the Spurs’ head coach with none of those players on the roster. Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptorsfor DeMar DeRozan earlier this summer, the end of a relationship in San Antonio that had apparently gone too sour to save.

Leonard’s departure meant Ginobili would have been the last significant player tied to the Spurs’ title years. But in the end, retirement was his call.

Ginobili, even though he was often coming off the bench, has a résumé of postseason production like almost no one else. Only two players have more than 800 rebounds, 800 assists and 300 3-pointers in their playoff careers — Ginobili and LeBron James.

Ginobili’s final game was April 24, when the Spurs were ousted from the Western Conference playoffs by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. San Antonio lost the series 4-1.

New York Knicks Play Tribute Video for Carmelo Anthony’s Homecoming

It’s a bittersweet homecoming for Carmelo Anthony

The 33-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player received a mostly warm welcome from New York Knicks fans Saturday night in his first game at Madison Square Garden since joining the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Carmelo Anthony

There were loud cheers for Anthony during his introduction, and some noticeable boos.

The Knicks played a tribute video for Anthony before his name was called during the traditional starting lineup introductions. The video showed some of the big shots and highlight games during Anthony’s 6½ seasons in New York and was met with a loud ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd.

Anthony said he was surprised by the video and thanked the organization for the gesture.

“That was big-time, and for me that goes a long way,” Anthony said, who admitted the clip brought a mixed bag of emotions as it reminded him of the Knicks’ shortcomings during his tenure.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling for me — coming back here, knowing the goals that I had, what I wanted to accomplish here and falling short in that category,” he said.

Anthony, playing the second night of a back-to-back after logging 47 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers, was held to 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting Saturday. He went scoreless in the second half, and the Knicks spoiled his return by topping the Thunder 111-96.

The 10-time NBA All-Star was booed throughout the game when he touched the ball and when he subbed out of the game near the end of regulation. He said afterward that he wasn’t surprised by the reaction.

“They can’t cheer for me. I’m on another team,” Anthony said. “They’re cheering for their team. They boo for the other team. That’s something that I expected.”

During Anthony’s tenure in New York, the Knicks advanced past the first round of the playoffs just once and failed to reach the postseason the past four seasons. Teammates have credited Anthony for how he handled the off-court drama of trade speculation and critiques — both direct and indirect — delivered by former Knicks president Phil Jackson throughout the 2016-17 season.

Anthony declined to say whether his return would have felt different if Jackson were still in New York, saying he has put his issues with Jackson behind him.

“I try not to think about that,” Anthony said.

Anthony was dealt to the Thunder in late September in exchange for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, ending months of drama with the Knicks that began when Jackson publicly stated his desire to trade the All-Star forward. With a list narrowed down to only a few teams, Anthony waived his no-trade clause to accept a deal to the Thunder.

After Saturday’s loss, he spoke about how he wanted to be remembered as a Knick.

“Somebody who wanted to be here, came here, did what he had to do night in and night out whether people liked it or not, remained positive through all the negative situations and all the negative times,” Anthony said. “Somebody who stayed professional throughout my seven years here and somebody who had hopes and dreams of winning the championship here in New York and fell short at that.

“So that’s something that I will always hold over my head as far as it comes to that. But I will always be kind of part of this culture here. For me it’s different than any other basketball player that comes through here, that played with the Knicks. It’s deeper than basketball when it comes to me and this city.”

The Knicks (16-13) have exceeded expectations in their first season without Anthony. They have relied on ball movement and a solid approach to team defense in the first two months of the season. New York entered Friday ranked 15th in defensive efficiency (up from 25th last season) and 11th in assist ratio (up from 23rd).

“I like what I see,” Anthony said of the Knicks’ potential going forward. “I like the potential they have. For me, to see those guys having fun again, knowing it wasn’t fun, to see them having fun bringing the energy and love back to the Garden. I’m happy for those guys when it comes to that.”

New York Knicks Agree to Trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Carmelo Anthony is ready to take Oklahoma by (thunder)storm

The New York Knicks have agreed to trade the 33-year-old half-Puerto Rican NBA star, a 10-time All-Star forward, to the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to ESPN.

Carmelo Anthony

The Thunder will send center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick (via the Chicago Bulls) to New York, league sources said.

Anthony, 33, will waive his no-trade clause and his $8.1 million trade kicker to accommodate the deal, league sources told ESPN.

A trade call is scheduled for Monday to finalize the deal with the league office, sources said. Anthony is planning to arrive on Monday afternoon in Oklahoma City to take a physical and be available to practice Tuesday at the opening of the Thunder’s training camp, according to league sources.

Anthony would only waive his no-trade clause for the Thunder, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources said. His no-trade clause will go with him to Oklahoma City.

Anthony joins the league’s reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook, and All-Star forward Paul George on a reshaped and formidable Western Conference contender. Westbrook and George — who could become free agents in the summer of 2018 — played a significant role in recruiting Anthony to waive his no-trade clause for Oklahoma City, league sources said.

The Thunder made a huge commitment with the Anthony deal, incurring $27.8 million in luxury tax for the 2017-18 season. The Thunder payroll will rise to $134 million this season. Anthony has two years, $54 million left on his contract, including a player option for $27.9 million in 2018-19.

Lopez Passes Buck Williams as Brooklyn Nets’ Career Leading Scorer

Brook Lopez is celebrating the swish smell of success…

The 29-year-old half-Cuban American NBA player has passed Buck Williams to become Brooklyn Nets‘ career leading scorer.

Brook Lopez

Lopez, the team’s center, surpassed Williams with a jumper late in the fourth quarter of a 114-105 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Lopez, who finished with 25 points, started slowly but passed Williams with a turnaround jumper on the baseline with just over 4 minutes left in the game.

Williams’ career spanned 17 seasons from 1981 to ’98, the first eight of which were with the New Jersey Nets.

Lopez, was drafted by the then-New Jersey Nets in the first round in 2008, said he didn’t take moving to the top of the Nets’ record books with his 10,441st point lightly.

“It’s a great honor, obviously a lot of amazing players have played here,” Lopez said. “I’m just proud to have my name up there with those guys.”

Lopez, the NBA All-Rookie First Team selection in 2009, was an NBA All-Star in 2013.

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.

Ginobili Returning for 14th Season with the San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs the limit for Manu Ginobili

The 37-year-old Argentine player will return another season with the San Antonio Spurs, announcing his decision in a tweet Monday.

Manu Ginobili

“Happy to announce that I’m coming back next season. #gospursgo #TDwouldvemissedmetoomuch,” tweeted Ginobili, considered one of the finest international players to grace the NBA.

Ginobili had said Tim Duncan‘s decision would affect whether he returned for the upcoming season. Duncan announced Thursday that he would return for his 19th season.

The Spurs were determined to convince Ginobili to play one more season after agreeing to terms with LaMarcus Aldridge, sources told ESPN.com. The Spurs remained quietly optimistic that Ginobili would ultimately opt to come back.

While Ginobili appears to be on the decline statistically, coach Gregg Popovich still wanted to bring him back for a 14th season with the Spurs, as Ginobili’s experience and intangibles make him an important piece as the club tries to make a run at a second championship in three years.

Ginobili, a two-time NBA All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year, had pondered retirement since San Antonio’s season ended with a heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference first round.

In 2014-15, Ginobili turned over the ball five times per 100 possessions, which registered as a career high. In the postseason series against Los Angeles, Ginobili connected on just 34.9 percent of his shots, the worst playoff field goal percentage of his career.

Ginobili has averaged 14.3 points throughout his career in the regular season and 15.2 points per game in the postseason.

Lopez: A Late Addition to the 2013 NBA All-Star Team

Then there were two…

Brook Lopez will be joining Carmelo Anthony in Houston this month.

Brook Lopez

The 24-year-old half-Cuban American Brooklyn Nets center has been named as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Stern picked Lopez to replace Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who was voted in by the fans as a starter but will have to miss the rest of the season due to a right ACL tear last month.

Lopez, initially passed over for an All-Star spot, will now make his debut in that NBA mid-season showcase on February 17 at the Toyota Center in Houston. He will be Brooklyn’s lone representative.

“It’s a huge honor,” Lopez said in a statement after the Nets’ 105-85 home loss this week to the Miami Heat.

“First and foremost, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They make my job 100 times easier, playing with Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson), Gerald (Wallace), they gift wrap me buckets and take a lot of attention away from me on the court. It is something I have been working towards and it’s been a goal of mine and it will definitely be an exciting weekend.”

This season, Lopez is averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game – tops for his team in all three categories.

Anthony: The Lone Latino 2013 NBA All-Star

Carmelo Anthony will be getting some extra play time this season, thanks to his dedicated fans…

The New York Knicks forward has been named as an Eastern Conference starter for the 2013 NBA All-Star game, which will take place next month in Houston. The players are voted-in by fans around the world, often leading to some interesting results.

Carmelo Anthony

It will be the sixth All-Star game for the 28-year-old half-Puerto Rican basketball star, the only Latino selected as an All-Star this year. Anthony earned 1,460,950, behind only the Miami Heat‘s LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant was the overall top vote-getter.

This season Anthony has been a scoring machine. He currently has 28 straight 20-point games.

The 62nd NBA All-Star Game will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm ET, televised exclusively on TNT and broadcast exclusively on ESPN Radio in the U.S.

The All-Star Game will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.

Here’s a look at the 2013 NBA All-Star Game Roster:

Eastern    Conference

Starter

Appearance

LeBron James, F, MIA 9th
Carmelo Anthony, F, NYK 6th
Dwyane Wade, G, MIA 9th
Rajon Rondo, G, BOS 4th
Kevin Garnett, F, BOS 15th

Reserve

Appearance

Kyrie Irving, G, CLE 1st
Jrue Holiday, G, PHI 1st
Tyson Chandler, C, NYK 1st
Joakim Noah, C, CHI 1st
Luol Deng, F, CHI 2nd
Paul George, F, IND 1st
Chris Bosh, F, MIA 8th

 

Western    Conference

Starter

Appearance

Kobe Bryant, G, LAL 15th
Kevin Durant, F, OKC 4th
Chris Paul, G, LAC 6th
Dwight Howard, C, LAL 7th
Blake Griffin, F, LAC 3rd

Reserve

Appearance

R. Westbrook, G, OKC 3rd
James Harden, G, HOU 1st
Tim Duncan, C, SAS 14th
Tony Parker, G, SAS 5th
L. Aldridge, F, POR 2nd
David Lee, F, GS 2nd
Zach Randolph, F, MEM 2nd