The Memphis Grizzlies enter play Wednesday at 30-22 and fifth in the west. So a solid playoff team, right? I wouldn’t be so sure of that and I’m here to tell you, backing the Grizzlies is not a wise betting decision most nights going forward until all-star center Marc Gasol returns from a broken foot — if he returns at all this season, a situation that has any major online sportsbook thinking when posting lines for the Grizzlies.
What Does It Mean?
Gasol left the Grizzlies’ 112-106 overtime home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night early in the game and didn’t return. It’s not clear on what play the break actually happened. But it didn’t seem like a huge deal at the time. After the game, Memphis coach, Dave Joerger described Gasol as “just dinged up,” adding that, “He’s got a problem on one leg. He’s got another problem on the other leg.”
However, tests done on Tuesday revealed a broken right foot, and broken feet are a major deal for 7-foot tall human beings. Just ask guys like Yao Ming or Greg Oden or Bill Walton or even Kevin Durant, who missed a large chunk of last season with a broken bone in his foot. Gasol has started all 52 games this season and is averaging 16.6 points, seven rebounds and 1.35 blocks.
“Marc is a cornerstone of our franchise, and we are focused on getting him healthy,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a release. “Marc will be out indefinitely and a further update will be provided after the All-Star Break.”
With how important Gasol is to the franchise, I’d be willing to bet he’s not back this season. Gasol is in the first season of a five-year, $110 million contract he signed last summer to remain in Memphis. So you don’t want to mess around when owing a guy that much money.
Whether or not Gasol has surgery on his foot, he’s expected to miss at least six weeks and likely closer to eight or more. The more optimistic time frame would put his return date around April 1, and if he’s out longer than that, he’s nearly certain to miss the rest of the regular season, which for the Grizzlies ends April 13.
Missing the playoffs actually would benefit the Grizzlies. They aren’t going to win the West even with a healthy Gasol. If the Grizz make the playoffs, they must forfeit their first-round draft pick from when the Grizzlies moved forward Marresse Speights to Cleveland to save luxury tax money. In doing so, the Grizzlies sent a first round pick to the Cavaliers. If Memphis misses the playoffs, it would get out of its obligation to the pick given up in the Speights trade. That pick would actually go to Denver, which received it in a trade last season from Cleveland for center Timofey Mozgov.
With this injury, Jeff Green and Matt Barnes are going to see a minutes boost, with Zach Randolph and Mike Conley being asked to do more scoring on offense. Brandan Wright (knee) should also be in the rotation once he gets back from his injury. According to Wallace, Wright is progressing well. Wright has been recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery that he had in mid-December, but Wallace added that he is expecting to have the big man back after the All-Star break.
Also, it’s not impossible the Grizzlies trade Conley now. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and there are signs he wants to leave.