Not since his rookie season has Memphis Grizzlies star center Marc Gasol been on a team destined for less than 40 wins. From 2009-10 to last season, the Grizzlies hit at least the 40-win mark and made the playoffs in each of those seven seasons. Today, the Grizzlies are 18-41, losers of 10 straight after injuries have wreaked havoc on the roster all season.
The Phoenix Suns (losers of 10 straight as well) visit tonight (8 ET, NBA League Pass) and after yesterday's practice, Gasol opened up about some of his frustrations with the team's losing ways. Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal was on hand and captured video of Gasol talking about the season, which has been transcribed below:
"It's pretty high," Gasol said when asked about his frustration level. "It's pretty high."
When asked by The Commercial Appeal if tonight's game vs. Phoenix would be an opportunity to win, Gasol said that would be the ideal situation for the Grizzlies for a variety of reasons.
"That'd be ideal just to show guys and give confidence to guys to show them that doing the right thing, it's important. It makes you win games. Winning is what this is about," Gasol said. "It's not about somebody playing well or getting, you know, your reps or developing players. Because we have a league for that. We have a league and a team here in Memphis to develop guys. This is the NBA, not the G League."
WATCH: When asked his level of frustration with losing, Griz center Marc Gasol said: “It’s pretty high.” Gasol went on to essentially say winning is what professional sports are about. "It isn’t about developing players. Because we have a league for that.”https://t.co/r2462OK98I— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 27, 2018
As of mid-Feburary, the Grizzlies had lost 175 games to injury or illness among 14 players. The team learned in January that point guard Mike Conley needs heel surgery and would not return this season. Conley was limited to just 12 games this season, last playing on Nov. 13. Others, such as veteran Chandler Parsons, have been in and out of the lineup with injuries as well. The rest of the playing rotation has been comprised of young players and rookies.
Prior to Monday night's 109-89 loss to the Boston Celtics, Yahoo Sports' Chris Mannix talked with Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff about Gasol's frustration this season:
“It’s frustrating,” Bickerstaff acknowledged. “A guy as competitive as he is, and a guy who every day matters to him, whether it’s practice, drill work, three-on-three, he’s trying to win. The games come on, same thing, he’s trying to do everything in his power to lift his team. A guy who is so unselfish, he doesn’t care how many points he scores. The only thing that matters to him are wins and losses. I think we all understand and appreciate guys who are that way. There’s no doubt about it, it’s frustrating for him.”
Has he seen signs of that frustration?
“He has his moments,” Bickerstaff said. “But one of the things he has done is he’s embraced the young guys. You watch him put his arm around guys, teaching guys, working with guys. And then he has started to work on his game and do different things that will help him moving forward as a player. He’s human, and those moments [of frustration] do come up, but he’s spent more time focusing on growth than he has on the situation that we are in.”
“He’s working on different parts of his game,” Bickerstaff said. “Post-up game. The way teams are playing, you don’t see a ton of post-up opportunities any more. He’s working on his face-up game, he’s working on a different array of shots, in the paint, how he gets to those spots, things like that. Playing from the perimeter, being able to attack off the catch versus other big guys. Those things we’ve seen him be able to implement. He’s been able to implement them quick. As soon as he puts his mind to it, he can add it that night.”
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