The Grizzlies had a strong 12-5 start to the season, prompting visions of a return to the postseason after last year's injury-plagued campaign. Since a one-point win over the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 21, however, the wheels have completely fallen off. Memphis has just seven wins in their past 30 outings, a span which includes three separate losing streaks of at least five games.
"It sure feels like everyone’s expecting something to happen," Gasol told The Athletic's Peter Edmiston after Monday's dispiriting 30-point blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. "If it’s a big trade, an overhaul, whatever it is, it sure feels like something that everyone is expecting. Which is kind of messed up."
A week from turning 34, Gasol is still a productive big man with solid interior defense and above-average passing for his position. Through 46 appearances, the Spaniard has averaged 15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game.
Conley, 31, is averaging 19.8 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
Conley and Gasol account for $54.6 million - nearly half of the Grizzlies' $121.1 million in salary for the 2018-19 season - and have considerable cap hits moving forward:
Complicating potential trades, both contracts come with additional caveats and unknowns. Gasol's contract has a 15 percent trade kicker, and the final year of his deal is a player option. The final year of Conley's contract is guaranteed for just $22.4 million, but vests for the full $34.5 million if he plays more than 55 games in either this season or next - which will happen if he makes just nine more appearances this year.
Asked Monday whether he wanted to be traded, Gasol said, "that's just not the way I operate," but pondered whether the Grizzlies were waiting for him to make the first move.
"Maybe (the organization is) waiting for that to happen," Gasol told Edmiston. "Maybe they don’t want to do it, maybe they say, ‘We’re not going to do it, maybe you should ask for it.’ I honestly don’t know. I have no clue what it is. But I’m not wired that way, I’m not a quitter. I can’t, in the heat of the battle, just say, ‘All right, take care.’"