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Knicks may covet Marc Gasol, but he is playing it cool

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 02: Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts after committing a foul against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center on January 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Grizzlies defeated the Lakers 104-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Marc Gasol

Jeff Gross

The Knicks have become the ultimate leverage for free agents — flirt publically with the big market team trying to rebuild through free agency and watch your current team up their offer to keep you. Ask Rudy Gay how that works if you’re unsure.

Marc Gasol of the suddenly hot Memphis Grizzlies is a guy the Knicks actually covet — he can defend big guys in the post, protect the rim on defense, is a good passer (runs in the family) and can knock down a mid-range jumper. He is exactly the big man the Knicks need.

And he’s a free agent after this season. Restricted (at least under the current CBA), so the Grizzlies could match any offer, but he can test out the market.

But Gasol is not playing the flirting game. This is what he told Alan Hahn of Newsday about this summer and the Knicks.

“I’m not worried about it,” Gasol said of his status as a restricted free agent. “I’m just trying to enjoy my situation right now and make the playoffs. That’s the only thing that I really care about right now.

“When the time comes, we’ll see what happens and we’re going to study every situation by itself,” he added. “But right now, we’ve got too nice of a present to worry about the future.”

Who knows what the free agency landscape will look like under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Or when it will be, for that matter.) But you can bet that no matter what there will be plenty of interest in Marc Gasol. And the Knicks will be one team flirting with him.