Some readers responding to Final Roster Spot: Gasol still a possibility? have said they don't feel it likely that Marc Gasol has any interest playing outside of Spain and that a mid-season return the NBA is probably not in the cards. I must admit, the whole narrative of Gasol being traded-to-Memphis-for-some-magic-beans-so-he-can-retire-as-a-Grizzly does lend some credence to the idea that his retirement from the NBA is indeed genuine. I suppose I'm imagining the scenario of the recent retiree realizing that the itch isn't gone... he owes it to himself to take one last shot! That, plus wishful thinking--as I do believe he'd be useful on our roster and would make a fine mentor for James Wiseman.
The central premise in that post holds true, nonetheless: The fact that Damion Lee's contract isn't guaranteed means he can be waived without having to eat the tax hit of his whole-year's salary. This means that even if the team adds one of the guards invited to camp (which they should and my money is on Avery Bradley--a committed on-ball defender and decent shooter), they retain the roster flexibility to add a player if an attractive possibility were to present itself.
It's also worth remembering that they still have an unused mid level exception. During the free agent feeding frenzy (say aloud 10 times fast and flawlessly and I owe you a beer), Bob Myers remarked on 95.7 The Game "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" that the MLE was likely to go unused, the team's financial situation being what it is.
"I don't think we use it. I think we tried, we put it out there for some players we thought were difference-makers. But it's not wise, and I would almost protect Joe from himself if he said go spend it on anyone. It does cost us about $25 million to spend the $5 million, which again I laugh, I know listeners or fans don't care about that part, but we have to. We have to be smart about it, we've got it in a buyout, I do think every year there's players that are bought out, if you need to spend a little more money in that market, we have it for that. But at this point Damon, I don't foresee us using it as it looks right now."
Being so far into the luxury tax, which would make $5M MLE actually cost almost $25M, also means that if Andrew Wiggins generously excuses the team from the obligation of paying half his salary with his self-inflicted-stupidity-punishment he will be saving the team something in the $70M neighborhood. That would make using the MLE a lot easier to swallow.
Jan 10, 2022. That is the date all contracts become guaranteed for the remainder of the season. By that point in time, we will have an idea whether we are contenders or not. If so, we should be looking to spend some money.
I invite any and all speculations in the comments: who might become available in the buyout market whom the dubs might be interested in?