2008 saw the best player in Grizzlies franchise history get traded to the Lakers for what seemed like nothing. Pau Gasol was traded for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron Mckie, two first round picks (one in 2008 and the other in 2010), and the draft rights to his little brother Marc Gasol.
Pau Gasol made another return to the city that he called home for the first seven years of his career on Tuesday as the Lakers beat the Grizzlies in double OT 116-111.
Yet all is not well for Pau in LA. He has been rumored to be on the trading block since the beginning of the season and it is affecting his game.
With the trade deadline approaching, Pau’s return to Memphis, and his name again being mentioned in trade talks (although this time not a trade that he wants) now seems as good a time as any to re-evaluate the 2008 trade that left many Grizzlies fans scratching their heads. Here are the five best things about the Pau Gasol trade in 2008.
1. Marc Gasol:
He has been an obvious plus for the Grizzlies since his arrival in the 2008-2009 season. A member of the All-Star Team this season and an important piece of the puzzle, Marc has lived up to (and even surpassed) expectations. Marc is averaging 13 points and 8.2 rebounds for his career, and he seems to be peaking right now, as is evident by his 15.4 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game this season. Also, Marc averaged a double double during last year’s playoff run and has been stepping up nicely during the absence of Zach Randolph. With a new contract Marc will be a Grizzly for a while, and that is something that makes every Grizzly fan happy about the trade.
2. Grevis Vasquez:
The Grizzlies used the first round pick that they got from the Lakers in 2010 to draft Vasquez, a solid point guard from the University of Maryland. Although he was only in Memphis for a year, he was still an important part of the team’s playoff run last year and his presence is sorely missed. Vasquez served as the back up point guard last season, and is best remembered for his performance in the playoffs. In game six of their playoff series against the Spurs he played 23 crucial minutes, scoring 11 points, and doing this. He also filled in nicely in game four of their conference semifinal matchup against the Thunder when Mike Conley fouled out of the game. Even though the Grizzlies ended up losing the game (and eventually the series) it was a big time three by Vasquez that force double overtime. While Vasquez is no longer a Grizzly, his play in the playoffs last season makes him one of the best things about the Pau Gasol trade.
3. Darrell Arthur:
With the Lakers 2008 first round pick Memphis selected Dante Greene, but before the night was over the Grizzlies front office traded Greene to the Houston Rockets for none other than Darrell Arthur. Yet another important part of last year’s epic run through the playoffs. His energy and effort off of the bench made him a valuable asset to the team last year, and when it was announced that he would be out for the season every Grizzlies fan was disappointed. He is an athletic big man whose length at the rim really bothers opponents. As the first big man off the bench Arthur was a more than capable backup to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol last season.
4. Cleared cap space:
You might be wondering why this is a good thing. Well it allowed the Grizzlies to be more aggressive in free agency and in trade talks. This extra cap space allowed Memphis to sign Allen Iverson (although it ended in a disaster) and make a trade for Zach Randolph. All Z-Bo has done since he has been a Grizzly is go to an All-Star game, be a third team All-NBA player, and lead the Grizzlies to their first playoff win ever. The Grizzlies would have never been able to acquire Z-Bo with the salary they were paying Pau. And I know that basketball is a team sport, but Z-Bo did lead Memphis to their first playoff series win something Pau failed to do in three appearances in the playoffs.
5. The 2010-2011 playoffs
Now this is by far the best thing about the Pau Gasol trade. A franchise that had never one a playoff game came within a game of reaching the Western Conference Finals, with pieces that they acquired from the trade of Pau. Vasquez and Arthur added depth to the bench, Marc was a dominate force in the paint, and Z-Bo’s performance during the playoff run was phenomenal to say the least. Last year’s playoff run captivated the city and was thanks in large part to the trade of Pau Gasol.
C.J. Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.
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