The Toronto Raptors (40-16) shored up their frontline by acquiring center Marc Gasol, 34, from the Memphis Grizzlies shortly before the NBA trade deadline.

Marc Gasol
Center Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies posts up Jonas Valanciunas from the Toronto Raptors during a game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Image: Nelson Chenault/USA Today Sports)

In return, the Grizzlies acquire center Jonas Valanciunas, point guard Delon Wright, forward CJ Miles, and a 2012 second round pick. Valanciunas missed the last two months after Draymond Green broke his thumb. He was averaging a career-high 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds before hitting the injury list.

Gasol, 34, won the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He averages 15.7 points and 8.6 rebounds this season. The Grizzlies (22-34) are the second-worst team in the Western Conference.

Memphis Grizzlies trade: Marc Gasol

Toronto Raptors trade: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, 2024 second round draft pick.

Gasol, a 7-foot-1 center, averaged  15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a game over his ten-year career. The LA Lakers drafted him out of Spain in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft.

Gasol vs. Freak

The Raptors are making a run for the NBA Finals, but the Bucks stand in their way. Furthermore, team hopes Gasol’s experience will pay off during the postseason.

“Marc brings significant playoff experience to our team,” said Raptors president Masai Ujiri. “Along with his savviness and leadership skills really helps position us for our ultimate postseason goal. We look forward to welcoming Marc to our city and team.”

The Raptors sought out Gasol for his defense, since they were unable to stop the Greek Freak.

“There’s a lot of positives with a guy like Gasol,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. “Most of them come with being battle-tested. We all know that those playoffs can get wild and woolly. He’s a guy that’s been through them many times.”

The Bucks (41-13) and Raptors are the only teams in the NBA that reached the 40-win plateau. The Raptors have the second-best record in the NBA, but they are 1-3 against the Bucks and the Greek Freak this season.

East in Flux

The Eastern Conference playoff standings have three tiers. The Bucks and Raptors are jockeying for the top seed, with the Bucks currently ahead by two games. The Pacers, Celtics, and Sixers are stuck in the middle with one game separating the group. That chase group is six games out of first place. The third and bottom tier includes four are fighting for the final three spots in the East: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons.

The Bucks and Raptors played four games this season. The Bucks recently won the season series 3-1. The Raptors decided that they needed Gasol to put them over the top of the Greek Freak.

The Bucks were mentioned as one of the teams where Anthony Davis wanted the Pelicans to trade him. The Pelicans stood pat and didn’t deal their disgruntled All-Star. Instead, the Bucks picked up Nikola Mirotic (16.7 ppg, 8.3 rebound) in a three-team trade.

1. Milwaukee Bucks 41-13
2. Toronto Raptors 40-16
3. Indiana Pacers 36-19
4. Boston Celtics 35-20
5. Philadelphia Sixers 35-20
6. Brooklyn Nets 29-28
7. Charlotte Hornets 26-28
8. Miami Heat 25-28
*** BUBBLE ***
9. Detroit Pistons 25-29

The Indiana Pacers are not the same team after they lost Victor Oladipo to a season-ending injury. The Sixers made a bold move by acquiring Tobias Harris from the LA Clippers. The Sixers are currently in the #5 spot, they now have the most dangerous starting five in the East.

The Celtics got off to a slow start, but finally locked in. General manager Danny Ainge is waiting until the summer to trade for Anthony Davis.

On Deck for the Raptors

The Raptors head to New York City to play the worst team in the NBA. They have a layup against the New York Knicks (10-44), who dropped 15-straight games. Yes, the same Knicks who are the most-valuable franchise in the NBA worth $4 billion.

Next week, the Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets (29-28) and Washington Wizards (23-32). The Nets are playing inspiring basketball, however, the Wizards are in a tailspin.

According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Toronto Raptors are 8/1 odds to win the NBA championship. The Memphis Grizzlies are 5000/1 odds to win the NBA title.