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Memphis holds advantage in courting restricted free agent Marc Gasol

Sep 19, 2011, 1:54 PM EST

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

At this stage in the lockout and the negotiations within, it’s impossible for any free agent player to address their situation with certainty. That much is guaranteed by the fact that no explicit communication can go on between player and team at the present juncture; any indications given at this point convey only intent or interest, and until a new CBA is christened, there will be nothing in the way of actual contract negotiations and agreement.

Still, there is value in knowing the desired outcome of various NBA free-agents-to-be, even if it’s only on a stay-or-go binary. Case in point: Memphis’ Marc Gasol, a restricted free agent who plays a highly coveted position and is coming off of yet another promising season. The Grizzlies would retain the right to match any offer thrown Gasol’s way by virtue of his restricted status, but his own preferences do play a role in the free agent process, Memphis’ decision making, and in a nutshell, Gasol’s entire short-term basketball future. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commerial Appeal (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog):

“I grew up in Memphis. I feel like it’s my home,” Gasol said in a telephone interview before amassing 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks during Spain’s 98-85 title win in Kaunas, Lithuania.

“They always say it’s a business and there are bad sides to the business. We have to wait until it plays out. But I’m looking forward to something good happening.”

As far as media hints go, “looking forward to something good happening,” is about as vague as it gets. Still, the fact that Gasol — though nominally a Spaniard — considers Memphis his home is not altogether insignificant. There’s no binding contract. There’s not even a verbal agreement in place. But Gasol made a home for himself in Memphis long before he played for the Grizzlies, and the fact that fact will make some impact on his free agent courtship. Whether it affects the final dollar value of a possible re-up with the Grizz or merely hedges on his interest in a possible relocation remains to be seen, but there’s no way this tidbit doesn’t work in Memphis’ favor.

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