Update: Marc Gasol will in all likelihood be traded to Charlotte tonight, per Shams.
According to Jake Fischer, the Raptors have offered Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas to Memphis for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. There’s a lot to take in there, but first, here’s the relevant information.
While Memphis has most seriously continued dialogue with Utah and Detroit on Mike Conley trade packages, the Raptors called Memphis offering Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas for Conley and Marc Gasol, per league sources. Lowry is aware of Toronto’s general trade discussions.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 5, 2019
Before we get to what the trade would mean, it’s worth mentioning that just because this is out there doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a thing that Toronto is trying to do. Guys are always working the phones over the trade deadlines, but that doesn’t mean that Toronto is actively trying to change their roster to this extent. There’s a big difference between an offer and a discussion.
Also keep in mind that Masai Ujiri and company are notorious for not leaking to the media. Memphis has been trying to get a lot out of Utah and Detroit for Conley and Gasol, respectively, so this news may be a method of putting pressure on Memphis’ potential trading partners. Still, the phrasing, ‘Lowry is aware of Toronto’s general trade discussions’ is strange. It could be nothing, and it could be something.
Toronto reporting from Michael Grange is quite different, saying that Toronto did not initiate the call.
The version of the Lowry/JV for Conley/Gasol talks I'm hearing is they were initiated by Memphis as they try to assess market for their players during their teardown. Did not progress very far.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) February 5, 2019
The trade deadline is a crazy time, so let’s do some crazy stuff. Let’s… actively contemplate what the Raptors would be like if this deal happened? This feels weird, but still. Mike Conley is an excellent point guard. He’s a great shooter (35.9 percent from deep), though his pull-up numbers (32.5 percent) aren’t elite. He is averaging 20.3 points per game and 6.3 assists. He kind of offers most of what a healthy Lowry offers, without the KLOE stuff like taking charges, defending the rim, leadership, and chemistry with the roster already in place. He and Lowry are similar ages on similar contracts, money-wise, though Conley’s goes through to 2020-21, while Lowry’s ends after 2019-20. That extra year is a big deal, as Toronto has intentionally kept their books almost completely clean in 2020-21. Still, I suppose that if Toronto is extremely worried about Lowry’s long-term health, and how that affects Kawhi Leonard potentially resigning, they might see a straight-up swap as an improvement.
Marc Gasol is a former defensive player of the year from the center position who can stroke the three (34.4 percent from deep on 4.2 attempts per game). (Keep in mind, Joakim Noah has won the defensive player of the year award more recently than Gasol, so don’t assume he’s still the same caliber of all-nba defender.) This year, Gasol is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. Still, he is in the middle of a something of a down season, but much of that can be explained by the outright horrible-ness of his team. Maybe. He’s also 34 years old, and Valanciunas is only 26, so that’s something. Valanciunas gives Toronto a lot, but Gasol would almost certainly give them more. He’s still a solid rim protector and more versatile on offence. Toronto would also have to betting on Gasol’s long-term health.
Memphis wants young players and picks, apparently, for their aging stars. Lowry and Valanciunas don’t come off the books so soon that this deal gives them immediate cap relief, either. I don’t see how this deal works well for either team, so I would classify this rumour as extremely unlikely. Still, it’s worth acknowledging and keeping an eye on. Back to the craziness before the Thursday trade deadline.