Toronto – As each of the 34 NBA players who switched teams before the deadline last Thursday will tell you that mid-season trading is not easy.
Almost immediately after hearing the news and while still processing it, you need to throw clothes in hand luggage, board an airplane, and move to another city. Completely eradicating your family? Yes, and this will come, but for now you do not even have time for that. You have to join your new team and get the job done.
You say goodbye to your old teammates and meet new ones. You are trying to acclimate to your surroundings as quickly as possible, studying plays, system and terminology. You want to come in and influence, feel your presence, but not too strong. You understand that you are the new person in a team of players who have been together for months or, in many cases, years. You have to be involved in what they do, not the other way around.
All this is especially difficult for players who have never crossed it before, or at least it must be.
Mark Gasol, the newest member of Toronto Raptors, makes it look easy.
After spending the first 10 and a half years of his career with Memphis Grizzlies, the veterans' center was traded with Raptors in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and selecting a second round one hour before the deadline.
It was a tumultuous week. Gasol landed in Toronto on Thursday evening, just hours after learning that he had been dealt. He took his physical Friday morning and met with his new team in New York, where he debuted with the rappers against Nicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. After a day to settle – as best as possible, given the circumstance – he played his first game in front of home fans in Toronto on Monday.
"I'm trying not to think about it too much," Gasol said before the thrilling Monday's 127-125 victory over the Brooklyn networks. "I go one day at a time and try to improve, step by step. I do not think it's new to me, like, oh my God. This is great and I am very fun with it. So I'm approaching her. I approach her with a lot of trust, a lot of energy and a learning approach. "
For the most part of the night you can find – and hear – talk to Gasol. He talked to coaches and assistant staff on the bench. He was talking to his teammates on the court. Whether he was in the game or on the sidelines, during play or in wait, he was talking.
This is not so unusual for a new player who wants to learn on the go but Gasol has not just been catching up. Even in his second match with his second team NBA, the 34-year-old was already targeting defense trafficking, serving as a hub of insult and sharing his wealth of basketball knowledge.
"I was communicating what the other team was trying to do," said the great Spaniard. "Letting out on the bench what the other team, trends, things I've found over the years are trying to accomplish. I'm just trying to help everyone.
"I am very communicative with everyone and I believe that this is an important and important part of the victory. Communicating what you see and obviously asking questions and sometimes giving answers. This is a two-way street. "
There are many reasons why Raptors jumped from the chance to land Gasol, many of whom have already seen in our first two games with the team – his passing, his defense, the skills and the skill of stepping off and hitting the jump. But, like everything else, they got his mind.
Gasol is a basketball encyclopedia. This is a big part of the way he plays but also meets the way he speaks. He has a unique sense of play and always has, according to those who know him best but his experience has not made him older, clearly made him wiser.
He is a three-time NBA winner and former defender of the year. He has appeared in 59 games in the playoff career for six years at Memphis Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and San Antonio Spurs in the finals of the Western Conference for 2013. He was champion and MVP in the Spanish League before coming to the NBA and won two silver medals with his brother Pau with the national team.
Gasol says that being an older, more complete player has helped the transition easier than he would have been if he had been traded earlier in his career.
"Probably not so emotional," he said. – You are older. You are more mature. You put things in perspective. You understand that you have a chance to come from a team that did not make the playoffs last year and probably will not have this year as well, having a chance to get back there, you know how much that means. If you look at the team and the way the franchise is created and everyone around, you know what they are going for. These are great things. "
When most people talk about the trade that led Gasol to Toronto, which has received mixed views around the league, they are in a hurry to raise the center's age as injury. And while it is true, 34 Gasol is not what it was a few years ago, raptors do not see an old and broken player, nor you.
Gasol was never a high alien. He never amazed anyone with his athleticism or speed. What the elite has done is the same thing that still makes him a hit player – at the moment you underestimate him, he will overtake you. You consider it a 7-meter version of your former Grizzlies teammate, Raptor's teammate Kyle Lowry then.
In Gasol, Raptors adds another vocal leader to their dressing room, another vet and – perhaps the most important – an elderly man who looks sincerely excited about the opportunity and knows what is needed to win this league.
It could be seen that it was played on the floor on Monday, especially in the fourth quarter, after Gasol began to move. The newest Raptor scored 11 of his 16 points in the frame by striking all five of his shots in just over seven minutes to help his team retreat down.
He drained a few hooks from the sky – a move that is rarely used in today's game, but one that is part of his arsenal – he knocked down a three-member and stabbed several refined passes of his teammates who quickly began to appreciate the benefits of playing with such an unhealthy big man. If they are cut and if they are open, they will find them.
Despite the presence of only one active security guard (Laurie) on Monday – with the wounded Fred VanVleet for at least three weeks and Jeremy Lynn will make his debut after clearing the refusals and signs on Wednesday – Raptors recorded 32 assists. Only two of them came formally from Gasol.
Many have gaps that have led to a hockey assistant or free throws, or one of his teammates just missed a hit – something that has happened quite a bit in both matches so far. If nothing else, they have to get used to the way they transfer the ball. Outside Nikola Jokic there's no big man in Denver to do it better. Rappers' chief coach Nick Nurse called his passage to be contagious, and it certainly looked like this on Monday.
"I'm an unselfish player by nature," Gasol said. "When I see a pass and someone open, no matter who she is, I'll throw it on them and keep encouraging the guys to keep moving and move without the ball because if they stand behind their defender or their defender makes a mistake we we'll make them pay for it. "
"The thing is, we have not practiced yet as a team, so all the stuff, including, and we've just lost Fred, so the things we had in the first game were a bit different today so everything will be correction. "
Will come. The rapper canceled his planned practice Tuesday morning as a result of Toronto's snowstorm. They will conduct a morning launch before Wednesday's meeting against Washington before starting their separate paths for all the stars at the weekend.
Gasol plans to spend his vacation in Memphis, where he will be trained, will do his homework, watching the old Raptors tape, and finish packing. His wife does not finish her work until March so she will join him with his two children (aged four and two) in Toronto next month.
Although he did not show up or show up at the court, last week Gazol was a whirlwind. After a few days of regrouping, reloading, and preparing the plot, a long way to go. You can expect to see more of Gasol after the break.
The nurse has made a conscious effort to relieve her new center in the first two games by pulling it out of the bench for the first time in her year as a rookie more than a decade ago and keeping it under 22 minutes. It makes sense because it acclimates, but at some point in the near future, Rapters would be wise to unleash completely Gasol.
What exactly that means, remains to be seen. Pascal Siaqam felt comfortable as the team's starting force, a role that allowed him to flourish in a star at the border this season. Serge Ibakka there is also a career year as a starting point. The nurse has a decision to make a decision, and whatever it ends, it will not be universally popular.
One of these three players – all very good NBA players – has to get out of the bench. More importantly, one of them will not be on the floor to finish the game on a night unless the nurse passes Siakam a short while ahead, and Leonard's shooting, which he said he could try at certain meetings.
Regardless of whether Gasol would lift Ibakka from the starting team or the platoon of the two center nurses, as with Ibakas and Valancinus at the beginning of this season, you can expect Rapters to rely on Gasol more and more until the season continues . That's why they brought him here.