National Basketball Association trade deadline: Raptors acquire Marc Gasol from Grizzlies

Kyle Lowry Raptors

Kyle Lowry Raptors

The blockbuster deal, which was completed late Thursday evening, brings a player long coveted by Raptors president Masai Ujiri to Toronto.

It was, at a stroke, a trade that signalled a couple of things: that the Raptors are in win-now mode as much as they have ever been, but also that Ujiri and company aren't so desperate to load up for this coming playoff run that they were willing to part with assets that they know they need to keep if things don't work out as they hope over the next four months or so.

Gasol, 34, is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and a career-high 4.7 assists (which ranks second among National Basketball Association centers, trailing only Nikola Jokic's 7.7).

While the Ohio State product has a preference, the Grizzlies might decide to wait until the offseason to trade him, allowing for time to expand his list of teams he'd be willing to play for.

The Raptors are planning to deal away their former fifth overall draft pick (2011) Jonas Valanciunas along with Delon Wright and C.J. Miles to Memphis. "I think another guy who can get you a bucket. that would relieve us a little bit with Kawhi (Leonard) and Kyle (Lowry). that high post passing is very important for us, elbow passing from a big guy who can really pass the ball".

A three-time All-Star and the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol has a 15 percent trade bonus that is valued at $1.28 million. They retained their two prized young forwards, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, both of whom would be expected to be the centrepieces of a rebuild effort should the Raptors' fortunes go pear-shaped sometime between April and July.

Valanciunas, Wright and Miles can become free agents next season.

"Jonas was a baby with us, grew up with us", Ujiri said. Nurse spent five years as an assistant coach working with Valanciunas and worked out with him in his native Lithuania on several occasions.

Trading Gasol at least got Memphis something out of a 34-year-old center who holds a $25 million option he can exercise this summer.

"I said to him today 'No more trips to Lithuania, ' he says, 'Come on man, you can still come, '" Nurse said. "I miss him already".

Gasol, meanwhile, could be in the Raptors' lineup Saturday in NY pending a team physical.

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