Marc Gasol Rumors: A short term option, but not a long term solution for the Celtics

While the day after an extended holiday weekend is generally a slow one for most around the world, the NBA off-season rumor mill is showing no signs of stopping. Coincidentally, it looks as if Danny Ainge and the Celtics are not either. Early Wednesday AM it was reported that the Celtics are looking at targeting Memphis Grizzlies C Marc Gasol to add to their roster for next season. On the heels of the Gordon Hayward signing, landing Gasol would symbolize another step towards building a roster capable of dethroning the King out East. Gasol will definitely help with some of the C’s major weaknesses in the short term, but is he a long term solution as well?

Pros:

*Rim Protection:

Gasol, who was the NBA defensive player of the year in 2013, has been one of the premier defenders in the league for quite a while now. Gasol is particularly strong as a rim protector, which is something that the Celtics lacked this past season. While teams such as the Rockets, Warriors and Cavs have stockpiled versatile offensive threats and shooters, having a defensive anchor/rim protector is a huge step towards competing with these teams. Gasol took a minor step back defensively last season because he had to shoulder a bigger offensive role in Memphis, but with Thomas, Hayward and Horford as other key offensive options he will be able to get back to focusing his energy on being the rim protector that the Celtics need. Additionally, landing a rim protector such as Gasol helps with masking the fact that Isiah Thomas is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. The C’s biggest need this off-season was rim protection, landing Gasol would turn a huge weakness into a relative strength.

*Offensive Versatility:

Gasol has grown into one of the premier bigs in the league through his ability to score both in the post and as a pick and pop big man. With him the C’s can play a more traditional lineup of Thomas/Hayward/Crowder/Horford/Gasol, but can also play smaller with either Gasol or Horford playing with Thomas/Hayward/2 shooters, making them deeper and better offensively. Beyond his ability to score on the block or as a perimeter shooter, Gasol is a good passer with a tremendous feel for the game. Adding another all-star caliber player with a vast array of offensive skills is only going to take the Celtics offense to even greater heights.

Cons:

*Age:

While Gasol has been one of the premier defenders in the league for ages, he is also climbing up there in age, as he will turn 33 before the All-Star break next season. While Gasol still has 2-3 years of being an effective player of being an effective NBA big, 7 footers decline in terms of athletic ability at a pretty fast rate once they get into their 30’s. While he will still be an effective rim protector, as he mobility continues to decline he will become a liability on the perimeter defending pick and roll situations. As the NBA further falls in love with the 3 ball, pick and roll and small ball, a player who starts losing a step becomes a huge concern the deeper you get into the playoffs. Age comes for everyone eventually (except maybe LeBron sans hairline), but Gasol, who has already showed some signs of regressing athletic ability, is someone who won’t be a long term solution for the Celtics.

*Rebounding:

Gasol is a premier rim protector, but he has been just an average rebounder throughout the majority of his career. The Celtics got eaten alive by the likes of the Bulls and the Cavs in the playoffs on the boards, and Gasol, who is coming off of his worst rebounding season of his career (just over 6 per game), will not be a solo solution to this issue for the Celtics. A net positive over guys like Olynyk and Horford to be certain, but not someone who alone will fix the major hole on the boards that plagued the Celtics during the postseason. His rim protection is still a strength, but he is far from a dominant rebounder.

Overall, I think that this would be a solid addition for the Celtics in the short term, but is not a long term solution for the obvious Championship aspirations of a franchise such as the C’s. Pairing his rim protection and offensive versatility is enough to improve the Celtics and give them a better shot at competing with the Cavs out East. Is he enough to dethrone LeBron? I don’t think so, but he makes the Celtics better for the 2017-2018 season and is probably the best, short term name tied to rumors with Boston that fixes a huge need. However, how willing are the Grizzlies to give him up? And as someone who is not a long term solution and is not enough to dethrone LeBron, is it really worth parting with your assets to land Gasol? Ainge has shown a willingness to be patient and with 10 1st round draft picks over the next 3 seasons, a wealth of young talent and a solid roster already, I think that it is within their best interest to sit this one out and continue to be patient. Those assets can be used to lure a larger name next off-season in the form of a superstar (Anthony Davis, perhaps?) and or a younger rim protector with a longer peak ahead of him than Gasol. Danny Ainge has proven his worth time and time again, and C’s fans need to take some notes from the Sixers and continue to remain patient and “Trust The Process.” Ainge is bound to do something bigger than landing Marc Gasol with all the assets the Celtics have stockpiled recently.

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