Toronto Raptors acquire veteran center Marc Gasol from Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol (right) in action against the Denver Nuggets' Mason Plumlee during an NBA game on Jan. 28, 2019, at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennesse. EPA-EFE/Karen Pulfer Focht
The Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol gets ready for an NBA game against the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 28, 2019. EPA-EFE/Karen Pulfer Focht
The Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol in action during an NBA game on Jan. 28, 2019, against the Denver Nuggets at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. EPA-EFE/Karen Pulfer Focht
Toronto, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- The Toronto Raptors on Thursday sought to bolster their roster heading into the playoffs by acquiring veteran center Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies, who received three players and the rights to a second-round draft pick in return.
The 34-year-old Gasol, the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All-Star, is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists thus far this season.
The Spanish center, the younger brother of two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol, leaves the Grizzlies after 10 1/2 seasons as that franchise's all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocked shots and field goals made.
In return for Gasol, the rebuilding Grizzlies acquired center Jonas Valanciunas, point guard Delon Wright, forward C.J. Miles and the rights to a second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.
Gasol is moving from a struggling team with a record of 22-33 (second to last in the Western Conference) to a Raptors squad that is 39-16 and has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The veteran center will be counted on to play a key supporting role for a line-up that includes superstar small forward Kawhi Leonard and power forward Serge Ibaka, who like Gasol has competed in recent years for Spain's national basketball team.
The Raptors made the deal in hopes of upgrading their line-up and keeping pace with their main competitors in the Eastern Conference: the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.
The Bucks, who boast NBA MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and lead the league with a record of 40-13, reportedly made a splash on Thursday by acquiring sharp-shooting power forward Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 76ers (34-20) acquired a deadly 3-point shooter of their own before Thursday's trade deadline by sending rookie Landry Shamet, forward Wilson Chandler, big man Mike Muscala and draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.
The 26-year-old Harris, who has transformed himself into one of the NBA's best long-range shooters, averaged 20.9 points per game and shot 43 percent from 3-point range for the Clippers this season.
Although the Celtics stood pat before the trade deadline, they have won nine of their last 10 games, boast a deep line-up headlined by star point guard Kyrie Irving and are one of the NBA's top teams defensively.
The Eastern Conference is up for grabs in 2019 after an eight-year stretch in which superstar LeBron James (now in the West as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers) played in the NBA Finals in each of those seasons with either the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers.