Monday, December 12, 2011

Marc Gasol Announces His Return

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Marc Gasol just announced via his Twitter feed that he will be returning to the Grizzlies:


No details beyond that at this point, but those should be coming soon.


The Commercial Appeal is reporting that the Gasol deal is for four years at $58 million. If so, then Gasol basically got “The Rudy”: The Grizzlies topped a potential max offer sheet from an outside team (4 years and $55 million) by offering the same deal with higher raises (Grizzlies can offer 7.5% raises while outside teams only 4.5% raises). An actual max contract from the Grizzlies would have started with the same salary — $12.9 million — but would have extended an extra year to 5 years/$75 million. This is basically what happened with Rudy Gay too, where the Grizzlies preemptively topped an outside max deal but didn't give Gay their own max deal. (Gay's deal was for five years; a true max would have been for six.)

In all, this contract is richer than the team —¬†and fans — initially hoped. Comparable players such as Joakim Noah and Al Horford had signed for 5/$60 a year ago. But given the number of teams with cap room and the scarcity of quality true centers, it was becoming clear that keeping Gasol was going to come at a premium, with the Houston Rockets said to be preparing a 4/$55 offer for Gasol.

Where does this deal leave the Grizzlies for the coming season? By my estimates, the team will now have 12 players under contract at roughly $66.7 million and the luxury tax line estimated at $70.3 million. I'm using conservative estimates on recent signees Josh Selby and Jeremy Pargo, so there could be an extra $500K or so in there.

So, let's say the Grizzlies have $3-$4 million to spend under the luxury tax and probably want to add two more frontcourt players. The team has a $2 million qualifying offer out to Hamed Haddadi, who still hasn't been able to re-enter the country. There are three potential scenarios here: Bring Haddadi back for $2 million, pull back to offer and sign him to multiple years at a lower starting salary, or pull back the offer and don't sign him at all.

As much as I deeply enjoy having Haddadi on this team, I think the smart bet would be to pull the offer and sign a vet in training camp — Brian Skinner, Mikki Moore, or Josh Davis — to a minimum deal to be the fifth big man, saving roughly $1 million.

That would leave $2-$3 million to sign a fourth big and complete the roster, which sounds good, but the Grizzlies appear committed to staying under the tax line and have to factor in potential performance bonuses for players such as Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. You could probably sign another big for the minimum or close to it — Leon Powe? Troy Murphy? — but it makes signing someone costlier — like top target Josh McRoberts — tougher to do.

This is why the O.J. Mayo-McRoberts scenario has some potential legs. Even taking back Brandon Rush, the Grizzlies would probably get both players — neither as talented as Mayo, but both rotation players on a playoff team last year — for less money than Mayo will make next season ($5.6), which would help the team fill out the roster while staying under the tax line. The Grizzlies would be losing the best player in the deal and risk downgrade during a season where they have a chance to make a real run, but there's a defensible rationale for that potential deal.


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