The 7-foot-1 Spaniard center Marc Gasol isn't in the position fellow big man Nene is this offseason. He is a restricted free agent, meaning the team with whom he played for last, the Memphis Grizzlies, can match any offer other teams throw at the 26-year-old Gasol; under the NBA's shiny new collective bargaining agreement, though, they'll only have three days to do so.
SB Nation's NBA editor Tom Ziller put Gasol right at the top of his NBA Free Agent Rankings, and with good reason: Gasol is young, talented on both ends of the court, and, perhaps most importantly in today's league, a true center. Here's what Ziller had to say about Pau's little bro:
On offense, he sets brilliant screens, can pass well and has a sharp mid-range jumper (one of the best in the league among big men, though he uses it only about once a game).
But his real value is on defense. Gasol's matchups at center shot just 47 percent (well below average for the position) and the Spaniard is a careful shotblocker who doesn't foul too much. His pick-and-roll play on both ends is superb, and with Tony Allen, he led Memphis to a No. 9 finish in defensive rating.
Defense is a key at center moreso than at any other position. That makes Gasol a free agent worth splurging for.
At this stage of the game — remember no official deals can be made until Dec. 9 — there doesn't appear to be any suitors other than the Grizzlies, and the reason for that is fairly simple: the Grizzlies want to keep him, and have stated that they plan to match any offer sheet presented to him. It will be hard for a team to tie up money for three days trying to sign him in the abbreviated offseason, so don't be surprised if the only tangible offer Gasol receives is from Memphis.
For continued updates on Gasol and the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.