Gasol trade looks better now for Grizzlies

By Tom Enlund

A portion of the professional basketball world contended that the
Memphis Grizzlies had presented the Los Angeles Lakers with a National
Basketball Association championship back on Feb. 1, 2008, when they
traded all-star center Pau Gasol to the Lakers in what appeared at the
time to be a horribly one-sided deal.

In return, the Grizzlies received center Kwame Brown, guard Javaris Crittenton, forward Aaron McKie, two future first-round draft picks and the draft rights to Pau’s younger brother, Marc, in the trade.

After the Lakers, who play the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at the Bradley Center, went on to win the 2009 championship in Pau Gasol’s first full season with the team, some felt the Grizzlies should have been awarded a championship ring.

With Marc Gasol emerging as a solid player in Memphis, the deal may not seem as lopsided as it once did, but Bucks forward Hakim Warrick remembers the initial reaction to the trade in the Grizzlies locker room.

"It was shocking," said Warrick, who played for Memphis at the time. "(Pau Gasol) is an all-star, so whenever you lose an all-star, you know that it’s going to be tough on your team. It was a long year, but I think (Memphis) has gotten better from it. At the time, Marc Gasol, a lot of guys thought he was just like a throw-in . . . so it was a pretty good trade. Not as bad as a lot of people thought.

"The Lakers did get that last piece, but I think Memphis as well got a lot of cap space and future picks that allowed them to get talent there, so it helped both teams."

Even so, Warrick said the Grizzlies realized they had some big shoes to fill.

"It was more that everyone knew that they were going to have to step up," he said. "That no one person could fill his shoes, so it was just a collection of guys going out there together."

The Grizzlies were 13-33 at the time of the trade and went 9-27 the rest of the way.

Warrick was teammates with Pau Gasol for two-plus seasons in Memphis and grew to know and appreciate his talents.

"You don’t find many big men as skilled as him," said Warrick. "He’s great around the rim using both hands. He can knock down the outside shot. He’s long and there’s not too many things that he can’t do."

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