The Charlotte Hornet who knows Marc Gasol best says the 34-year-old center has plenty enough left to impact this season, should a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies come through.
“A lot. He can really help any team in this league and he’d also teach the young guys,” said Hornets center and fellow Spaniard Willy Hernangomez. “He’s playing at a high level again. He’s still one of the best centers in the league.”
The Hornets and Grizzlies have engaged in trade discussions concerning Gasol, with the NBA’s Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline looming. Three-time All-Star Gasol’s departure would signal a major rebuild by the Grizzlies, Gasol’s only NBA team in his 10 1/2 seasons.
In order to acquire Gasol, the Hornets would have to roughly match his $24.1 million salary with contracts sent to the Grizzlies. Two current Hornets who could be in play if these trade talks continue: Center Cody Zeller, who makes about $14.5 million this season, and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who makes $13 million.
Zeller, at 26, would be a relatively young center replacement in Memphis. Kidd-Gilchrist has had a strong season, his first as a non-starter for the Hornets. He has one season beyond this one on his contract, and the $13 million he makes in 2019-20 could make him a trade asset should he be acquired by the Grizzlies.
Zeller is just back from missing a month with a fractured right hand. He played for the first time since the injury Thursday, finishing with six points and 11 rebounds off the bench in the Hornets’ 117-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The players were aware of the speculation about a possible trade with the Grizzlies prior to the start of Thursday’s game. Zeller addressed the effect of the looming trade deadline post-game.
“For years, I tried to figure out all the trade rumors, and I’d stress myself out,” Zeller said. “I figured out the best way to do it is just wait it out until (something) is official. You wear yourself out if you try to figure out every combination. So we’ll see.”
The Hornets flew out after Tuesday’s game for Dallas, where they will play the Mavericks Wednesday night. They will have a day off Thursday, when the trade deadline will pass.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer