"Merry Christmas, L.A."
While just about everyone expected the Memphis Grizzlies to trade Gasol before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, no one predicted it would be this soon or for so little in return. Instead of established players, the Los Angeles Lakers gave the Grizzlies only a package of expiring contracts, draft picks and marginal prospects for Gasol.
While most GMs weren't publicly venting their frustration on having missed out on Gasol, plenty were willing to do so privately.
The excuses ranged from blaming Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace to blaming their owners to well pointing the finger in just about every direction but their own.
One GM I spoke to asserted he had a better deal to offer, claiming that Wallace didn't return his calls.
Another said that just two weeks ago, Wallace was asking for twice as much in return. If this GM had known the Grizzlies were lowering the asking price on Gasol, he would've made another offer, he said.
A Western Conference GM said the Grizzlies' timing threw him off: "Big trades like this normally don't happen until after the All-Star break. Who would've guessed that the Grizzlies would've jumped the gun and taken such a lopsided deal three weeks before the trade deadline?"
Another prominent GM said his owner vetoed any trade that would've pushed his team into luxury-tax territory.
Sour grapes, anyone?
From the sob stories, two themes emerged:
One, a lot of GMs are more than a little jealous that the Lakers, of all teams, landed Gasol -- especially given the price tag.
Second, it sounds like the Grizzlies didn't walk away with the best deal available.
Given that, we have to ask: Which other teams could have landed Gasol, and what could they have offered?
As a starting point, let's look at the basic parameters of the deal the Grizzlies accepted:
• About $11 million in expiring contracts (Kwame Brown and Aaron McKie)
• A prospect drafted in the middle of the first round in 2007 (Javaris Crittenton)
• A second-round pick from the same draft (Marc Gasol)
• Two first-round picks, likely to be in the No. 20 to 30 range (2008 and 2010)
Which teams could have matched or exceeded that deal? As it turns out, plenty of teams could have.
Here's a look at 10 teams that missed the boat on Gasol (in alphabetical order):