The biggest challenge for any team that tries to land Gasol, Conley, or Chandler Parsons will be matching salaries.
Gasol’s 2019 salary is $24.1 million, and without adding a third team, the Wolves only have a few realistic combinations of players to make a trade work.
Taj Gibson, who is making $14 million this season and is a free agent in the summer, is probably the most obvious trade candidate in any major deal. While Gibson is having his second-straight fantastic season with the Wolves and is an important veteran in the locker room for Ryan Saunders, including him in a deal for Gasol is almost a must.
While Gasol and Towns are both natural centers, they are both good 3-point shooters and solid defenders. Gasol’s ability to guard centers would allow Towns to chase power forwards, which could easily help alleviate some of the foul trouble that KAT has been in seemingly every night. It wouldn’t always be perfect, of course, but to zig (playing a huge front line) while the rest of the league zags (playing small, position-less basketball) might just work.
The Wolves would still have Dario Saric, Gorgui Dieng, and Anthony Tolliver and would be able to matchup with small-ball lineups, albeit at the expense of minutes for Gasol. But the idea of a high-low game between Towns and Gasol is beyond tantalizing.
Sending out Jerryd Bayless is solely to match salaries, and the Grizzlies would be fine with swapping Shelvin Mack’s one-year deal for that of Bayless while the Wolves would need to add a point guard in the deal, especially with ongoing injuries to Tyus Jones, Derrick Rose, and Jeff Teague.
This is a no-lose situation for the Wolves, who would lose Gibson and Bayless in the offseason anyways and are really only giving up a middle-of-the-road first-round pick. The only salary beyond this year that they’d be taking back is Gasol’s $25.6 million for next year, and Gasol has a player option that he might exercise to allow himself to look for one last multi-year free agent deal as he heads into his age-35 season.
The Grizzlies would get out of the money owed to Gasol next year in case he had opted to stay in Memphis, and they get a first-round pick out of the deal.