Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Marc Gasol
"I didn't see myself other than with this team, whether it was going to be for the long term or one year," Gasol said Wednesday after signing his contract extension.
"I definitely thought I would be here this year."
Gasol was the subject of a lot of conjecture on whether he would return on a long-term basis or play out the final year of his contract with the Grizzlies and become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Memphis officials had vowed all along to match any contract offer from another team.
Now that the 7-foot-1 center is back, the Grizzlies keep intact the core of a team that made the Western Conference semifinals last spring.
Terms of the contract were not announced during Wednesday's press conference, but The Commercial Appeal reports the deal is for four years and almost $58 million. Gasol, a native of Barcelona, Spain, announced the tentative agreement on Twitter on Monday night.
Gasol was the final lingering piece for the Grizzlies, who are coming off their best season in franchise history. Memphis, which had never even won a playoff game before last season, defeated the Western Conference's top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the opening round, then went to a deciding seventh game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Grizzlies had emphasized the signing of Gasol was the priority before the season, and other players referenced the importance of having him back at the opening of camp. Randolph even reminded people that when he signed last spring, part of his deal included a promise that Gasol would be re-signed.
"In the short three years here, Marc has advanced through the ranks and become one of the top centers, not just the top young centers, but the top centers overall in the NBA," general manager Chris Wallace said.
Gasol enters his fourth year averaging 11.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and a career-high 2.5 assists and 1.68 blocks in the regular season last year. But he averaged 15.0 points and 11.2 rebounds in the postseason. He said the process dragged through the lockout because teams could not work on contracts. He said it seemed to move faster once the labor agreement was settled.
"(I) just let the guys who handle the business do it," Gasol said of the negotiations. "I play basketball. That's what I do. I don't negotiate contracts. I just focus and do my job on the basketball court."
NotesThe Grizzlies waived Ishmael Smith, who played in 43 games combined with Memphis and Houston last season as a rookie.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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