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NBA AM: Marc Gasol Proved His Loyalty To Memphis

While recent marquee free agents publicly explored other options, Marc Gasol’s free agency summer was low key.

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Marc Gasol Proved His Loyalty To Memphis

In today’s NBA when it comes to free agency, players are going to fully evaluate their options on the open market. The lure and recruitment effort of a big-market franchise no longer guarantees a player will sign on the dotted line.

The continued advancement of social media and the pure number of outlets available for a player to enhance their individual brand has diminished the previous built-in-advantages once enjoyed by major-market destinations.

This past summer, talented forward Greg Monroe rejected the advances of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge also left the Lakers’ offer on the table in order to sign with the San Antonio Spurs.

But even more than guys leaving for new destinations, players are fully utilizing their free agency status by enjoying recruiting visits. We saw All-Star forward Chris Bosh flirt with leaving the Miami HEAT for the Houston Rockets in 2014. Fellow All-Star Carmelo Anthony took a hard look at the Chicago Bulls before re-upping with New York during that same time period.

However, one of this past summer’s marquee names on the market, Memphis Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol, didn’t put his team’s fan base through an emotional roller coaster. Gasol had one of the quietest free agency periods and didn’t publicly meet with any other teams before re-signing in Memphis.

Grizzlies forward Jeff Green, an unrestricted free agent himself next summer, took notice of Gasol’s commitment to Memphis and believes it sets the tone.

“Speaking individually for him, Memphis has been Marc’s home for quite a while. His brother [Pau] started his career [there], so I knew he wanted to come back,” Green told Basketball Insiders. “I think he showed loyalty to the city of Memphis and all they’ve done for him. I think it’s big for our team because we’re trying to accomplish something that’s never been done in Memphis and that’s win a championship. It was just big and I’m happy he stayed.”

The Grizzlies have five rotation players who are approaching free agency next summer, a situation that could become a locker room distraction over time. However, Gasol’s understated time spent seeking a new deal will likely head off any of those distractions that may emerge in Memphis’ locker room.

Gasol has spent his entire eight-year career with the Grizzlies and boasts career averages of 15.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 518 career regular season games. Memphis reached the Western Conference Finals in 2013, losing in four games to San Antonio.

Rebuilding Knicks Get Vote of Confidence from Carmelo Anthony

Although the New York Knicks have been unable to land a star free agent to pair alongside All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, the team did have a solid summer of acquisitions that improved their overall talent level.

The Knicks still have a long way to go to the realm of title contention, but Anthony is seeing the improvement in the roster and what team president Phil Jackson has assembled in New York.

“I believe in this team,” Anthony said, according to Michael Lee of Yahoo! Sports. “I believe in the guys on this team. I know what they can do. I know the work that they put in. I know how hungry they are to get that tag off of them and bring New York back to where it should be. We know it’s a process.”

Anthony appeared in only 40 games last season due to knee trouble and the veteran is still rounding into form to start the season.

“Any time you’re kind of dealing with the knee, you start second-guessing things,” Anthony said. “Am I going to come back the same way? Am I going to have my bounce again? Am I going to be the same player? Will I be able to move like this? Will I still have my first step or my second jump?

“I started thinking that. The more time you’re sitting around, you can’t move, you can’t do nothing, a lot of things go through your mind dealing with something like that.”

The Knicks have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, winning a total of 54 games during that span. Anthony is locked in through the 2017-18 campaign with a player option for the 2018-19 season.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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