Marc Gasol: Focus hasn't shifted to free agency yet

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol said he's more preoccupied with what went wrong in the playoff series loss to Golden State than with what comes next with his future as one of the NBA's top free agents this summer.

"I haven't put all the scenarios on the table yet," Gasol said Monday. "I'm still trying to figure out what I could have done different to [help us] beat Golden State. That's where my mind is the last 72 hours. I know that's not the point you guys want to hear, but that's the reality. I woke up this morning with that feeling over and over again of, 'What could I have done better?'"

Gasol was the last of a dozen Memphis players who spoke with the media following exit interviews with the coaching staff at the team's practice facility inside FedEx Forum. While the majority of his teammates said they believe their franchise center will re-sign with the team for the long term, Gasol was perhaps the only person in the building still hung up on how the season ended.

Memphis was eliminated in six games by the top-seeded Warriors, who overcame a 2-1 series deficit by winning three consecutive games, including the clincher in Game 6 at FedEx Forum. While the Warriors advance to the Western Conference finals, the Grizzlies transition to an offseason of uncertainty.

Gasol is in the final season of a contract extension that expires at the end of June, and the two-time All-Star and former NBA defensive player of the year is expected to be one of the top targets on the market. The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks all are developing proposals to present to Gasol when the free-agency recruiting period opens July 1, according to multiple league sources.

The Grizzlies have made retaining Gasol their top offseason priority and can present several appealing contractual packages that are more lucrative than any outside suitor. Gasol can sign a maximum deal in Memphis this summer that could pay him about $109 million over five seasons. Or the seven-year veteran can take a two-year deal worth nearly $40 million that would include a player option for the second season that would allow Gasol to re-enter free agency in 2016 when the NBA salary cap is projected to spike significantly as revenues from the new TV rights deal take effect.

Should Gasol choose the short-term deal this summer, he could be in line to earn as much as $162 million over five years on a new contract that would start during the 2016-17 NBA season. The most any other team could offer Gasol this summer is a five-year, $80 million contract.

Gasol said he plans to take the next several weeks to decompress from the season, spend time with his family and possibly return to his native Spain to weigh his options. He said he's noticed how much of a spectacle the free-agency process was in recent summers for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard, among others. But he said his decision will play out on a more low-key level.

"It won't be no drama; it won't be nothing crazy," said Gasol, who has spent all seven of his NBA seasons with the Grizzlies after being acquired in the trade that sent his older brother, Pau, to the Lakers in 2008. "I think it's going to be a well-thought decision, something you feel good about and you move forward with. I don't see the future. I cannot imagine what it's going to be like. But the ties to this city -- to the people of this city -- go beyond basketball with me. My whole family has been here since 2001."

Gasol is coming off the most productive season of his career in Memphis. He averaged 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting 49.4 percent from the field in 81 games. A two-time All-Star, Gasol started for the West team opposite Pau in February's All-Star Game in New York.

"He's the best player at his position in the league," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. "You make preparations if it goes in a direction you're not happy about. You're not going to lose sleep at night. It's not going to do any good. He's going to do what he's going to do. Not in the next two weeks are we going to send him a big thing of flowers and it's going to change his mind. [By then], the cement is dry. We'll make our last, 'Hey, this is what's important to us. What's important to you?' Things of that nature. But I've got to think his mind is 99 percent made up."

During the season, Gasol repeatedly downplayed questions about his looming free agency. When the Grizzlies played in New York and Los Angeles, Gasol deflected questions by saying he hadn't ruled out potential suitors because he hadn't thought about the process. In addition to Gasol, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe are among the big men expected to attract interest from multiple big-market teams and franchises with huge salary-cap space.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said he already has had preliminary talks with Gasol about staying in Memphis and suggested the two could follow the precedent set by Spurs tandem Tim Duncan and Tony Parker in terms of playing their entire careers together. Conley, who is set to become a free agent after next season, will be a key member of the recruiting pitch to keep Gasol in Memphis.

"I haven't been worried about it too much; I haven't stressed about it, so I think that's a good thing," Conley said Monday. "I feel good, so hopefully that puts confidence in a lot of people. We've got a couple of things up our sleeves, trying to keep him here, so we're pulling out all the strings. Trust me."

Gasol has spoken frequently about his loyalty and friendships with Conley and power forward Zach Randolph. But he also said Monday that everyone on the team needs to get better in order to take the next step and contend for a championship. Memphis reached the conference finals two years ago, but was swept by San Antonio. The Grizzlies lost in the first round to Oklahoma City last season.

The Grizzlies have been one of the more physical teams in the league and have found success playing a style that pounds the ball inside to Gasol and Randolph. They have advanced to the playoffs five straight seasons and have won at least 50 games each of the past three, which are both franchise records. But the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder have exposed Memphis' weaknesses on the perimeter, where a lack of consistent 3-point shooting has been a huge barrier in the playoffs in recent years. Gasol wants to see improvements in several areas, including in his own game.

Gasol said it would be difficult to imagine himself in another uniform, but also said he believes his game could adjust to the style of any potential suitor. He repeatedly used the term "we" when he spoke of the Grizzlies and their prospects moving forward, but said that it requires a collective effort to improve because the team does not have a dominant player who consistently takes over games.

"We've come a long way in the past couple of years; from where we were to where we're at is great," Gasol said. "But I'm never satisfied. There's always room to grow and a lot of things you can do to get better. We have really good players. But nobody can take the team and put it on his back in a series and win four games. And I don't think LeBron is coming through that door anytime soon or Kevin Durant or anyone of that caliber. So the players we have have got to get better."