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NBA Toronto Raptors Marc Gasol

Three-Time All-Star Marc Gasol To The Raptors

The Eastern Conference’s second place Toronto Raptors have made a significant move by adding three-time All-Star center Marc Gasol from the Grizzlies.

The Raptors are sending center Jonas Valanciunas who has missed nearly two months with a thumb injury, guard Delon Wright who has underperformed expectations this season and three-point shooter C.J. Miles who has struggled shooting until very recently and had lost his spot in the rotation to Norman Powell.

The Raptors will now have four open roster spots and must fill three of them within the next couple of weeks (by league rule), so watch the buyout market for veteran three-point shooters.

Valanciunas was having a good season in limited minutes before he was injured, but there should be no question that Gasol is a significant upgrade averaging 33.7 minutes, 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks and a career-high 4.7 assists – second among league centers. For head coach Nick Nurse, Gasol will give him the opportunity to play big lineups with both Gasol and Serge Ibaka on the court and that was something he really wasn’t comfortable doing with Valanciunas and Ibaka.

Gasol has a player option for $25.6 million for next season which he’ll probably take and is in line with Raptors contracts with Kyle Lowry and Ibaka.

Raptors fans should expect a re-invigorated Gasol who is coming from the second last place team in the West and has been playing for nothing this season. It’s been five years since Gasol got to the Western Conference Finals and his Grizzlies just barely snuck into the postseason in each of the past two years.

Gasol should give Toronto a counter to potential key postseason opponents like Celtics Al Horford, 76ers Joel Embiid and Bucks Brook Lopez.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.