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Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley told TNT’s David Aldridge on Sunday afternoon that the Grizzlies would match the four-year, $55 million offer sheet the Houston Rockets have reportedly prepared for restricted free agent center Marc Gasol, considered the top big man in free agency this offseason. Under the new rules in the new collective bargaining agreement, the Grizzlies would have three days from the time they officially receive the offer sheet to either match it or decline to match.
Heisley said that the Grizzlies had not yet received an offer sheet on Gasol’s behalf from the Rockets on Sunday evening, but had been in contact with Gasol’s agent, Arn Tellem. Memphis has already offered Gasol a long-term contract that Heisley said was worth more than the offer sheet amount, which was reported by Yahoo! Sports. In either case, Gasol is going to remain in Memphis.
“We’re keeping Marc,” Heisley said. “We can’t afford to let him go … Marc and his agent have to decide what they want to do. But we would definitely match that if that came up to us.”
Houston gambled that the Grizzlies, who already have committed to huge contracts for forwards Rudy Gay ($82 million) and Zach Randolph ($71 million), along with guard Mike Conley ($45 million), wouldn’t have the stomach to make yet another major financial commitment. But the Grizzlies, who upset the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs last season, have indicated that going forward they’ll aggressively try to keep their new core together. (The Indianapolis Star did report Sunday that the Pacers may be trying to revist talks with Memphis on a deal that would send forward Josh McRoberts to the Grizzlies for guard O.J. Mayo. The two sides almost completed that trade before last February’s trade deadline, but the deal collapsed at the last minute, with each side accusing the other of backing out.)
The Rockets are in desperate need of finding a quality big man going into the season. They thought they had Marc Gasol’s brother–the Lakers’ Pau Gasol–in the three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. But that trade fell through Saturday night, and the Lakers sent Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for a 2012 first-round pick. Houston has also been looking at free agent center Nene.
Marc Gasol, who was a key part of the trade in 2008 that sent his older brother from Memphis to Los Angeles, became one of the game’s top young centers this past season, losing and keeping weight off and staying on the court. In the playoffs, his averages swelled to 15 points and 11.2 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the floor.