Three years and three months ago, the Lakers pulled off one of the biggest heists in NBA history – they plucked Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies for four players (one of them was his brother, Marc Gasol) and two first-round draft picks. The Lakers lost in the Finals in 2008, then won the title in 2009 and 2010. In that time span, the Grizzlies didn’t make the playoffs.
Finally, this season, the deal is starting to pay dividends. In addition to that trade, the Grizzlies made some other moves – chiefly, acquiring Zach Randolph – and had a couple nice drafts (Hasheem Thabeet, who has already been traded, does not count), and presto, they captured their first postseason series in franchise history.
The Grizzlies open the conference semifinals at 1 today against the Thunder. Memphis is a 6.5-point underdog in the opener.
Before anyone removes the “heist” label from the trade, let’s see what happens next year with Memphis. Was the first-round win over a creaky top seed just a fluke? Were the young, athletic, tough Grizzlies just a terrible matchup for San Antonio?
Since Memphis has already given lucrative extensions to Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, and resigned Rudy Gay last offseason, how will they find money to pay Marc Gasol? They’ll definitely lose Shane Battier this offseason.
Even though Memphis won three of four games from Oklahoma City this season, I like the Thunder in five. Perkins and Ibaka play much better interior defense than Duncan and McDyess, so I don’t expect Randolph to average the 26-13 he did against the Thunder in the regular season. Tony Allen vs. Kevin Durant should be fun.
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