Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Three reasons the Toronto Raptors had to trade for Marc Gasol

Three reasons the Toronto Raptors had to trade for Marc Gasol

He'd already had a small taste of Toronto's fan support when he debuted on the road at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

On the season, Gasol is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.1 steals, while shooting 34.4 percent from three-point range (on 4.2 attempts per game). The three-time All-Star was a stalwart of Memphis' "Grit and Grind" era that saw the club make seven straight playoff appearances, including the Western Conference final in the 2012-13 season.

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Now an National Basketball Association veteran, the Asian-American first made headlines when he burst onto the scene in 2011-12 with the New York Knicks, inspiring a global craze known as 'Linsanity.' The craze was so significant that when he hit a game-winning shot against the Raptors in 2012, it drew a huge cheer - in Toronto. "And what you're playing for, it's exciting as well".

Gasol appreciates Toronto's longstanding Spanish connection.

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"Jose was one of the first guys to reach out (and tell me) how much I'm going to love the organization and the city and he was very excited", Gasol told reporters on Saturday.

That 2012 roster also contained a man by the name of Serge Ibaka, who now plays for the Raptors and was coached by Sergio Scariolo, an assistant coach in Toronto. He was just 16 when he arrived in Memphis. Marc was drafted 48th overall by the Lakers in the 2007 draft, then traded to Memphis as part of a deal that sent brother Pau to L.A.

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Being traded might have been a tough adjustment earlier in his career, Gasol said, but it sounds like he was ready to make this move. "You're older. You're more mature", he said. "It's all great things".

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