Memphis Grizzlies to trade Marc Gasol to Toronto Raptors

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With the power vacuum in the East created after LeBron James' departure to Los Angeles, the conference's top teams recognize that the time is now to shoot for the NBA Finals.

"I think that there's a lot of positives with a guy like Gasol, and I think majority come with being battle-tested", Nurse said.

The Memphis Grizzlies were expected to make waves ahead of the National Basketball Association trade deadline, and roughly one hour before the final buzzer, they did just that.

Asked Thursday morning in Atlanta if he expected his roster to change, head coach Nick Nurse said: "I don't think so, but what do I know?" The Grizzlies would also get Toronto's 2024 second-round draft pick. Moving forward, Memphis has added a few young pieces and moved a decent-sized contract in Gasol in the process.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet spoke highly of Gasol shortly before Toronto tipped off against the Hawks in Atlanta.

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However, Gasol is averaging 15.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season with his best asset being his elite passing skills, defensive ability, capable three-point shooting at 34.4 per cent.

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.

Gasol also has a $25.6 million player option for next season. As an assistant he had worked closely with Valanciunas over many years, often travelling overseas in the summer to see him. Any player put on the market by then can suit up for Toronto in the playoffs as long as they are signed on or before the last day of the NBA's regular season. "I'll miss him", Nurse said.

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. While everyone wondered what Ujiri would do after another embarrassing playoff exit, we now have our answer: He blew it up.

Gasol, meanwhile, could be in the Raptors' lineup Saturday in NY pending a team physical. Ujiri said it was a "tough" phone call to make. And certainly miss him.

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