On January 22, 2013, the Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby, and a 2015 first round pick for Jon Leuer. The move, rightfully so, was seen as a salary dump. Why else would the Grizzlies trade Speights and Ellington, two serviceable role players, for Leuer, who was destined to be relegated to the end of the bench in Memphis? The move was a smart one, and it shows the business acumen of the new Grizzlies regime. The trade freed up approximately $6 million for the Grizzlies to spend in free agency this offeseason to try to sign that three-point specialist that the Grizzlies have so desperately needed for several years.
Now, a look at the stats.
|2012 - Marreese Speights||79||16.4||3.3||7.4||44.5||0.0||0.1||30.0||1.7||2.2||77.1||1.8||3.0||4.9||0.6||1.0||0.3||0.7||2.2||8.3|
While the Grizzlies did not necessarily need Marreese Speights in the Playoffs they certainly could have used him. Odds are Speights would not have added more to the floor than Darrell Arthur did this postseason, but he would have provided more than a young, underdeveloped Ed Davis. He also would have been more prepared to receive playoff minutes than Jon Leuer, the man the Grizzlies received in that trade.
All this is not to say Speights would have made a significant difference, say, in the Spurs series. However, it would have been interesting to see how the Grizzlies would have fared with both Speights and his trade partner Wayne Ellington on the roster for the postseason run. Who knows? Maybe Speights would have provided that little bit of extra energy and scoring off the bench that the Grizzlies needed to pull out a victory in at least one of the two overtime losses the Grizzlies suffered to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. As we all know, one victory does not win a series. Speights would not have been the difference maker, which makes the move still look good.
No evaluation of a player can be complete without a cost/benefit analysis. While Speights provided 6.6 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game in forty games with the Grizzlies this season, that was not enough to justify paying his full $4.2 million contract. The new Grizzlies regime made a wise decision to deal Speights when they did. If he was not dealt at the deadline, the Grizzlies are likely stuck with a better paid role player than Darrell Arthur, who has better stats than Speights for the most part while playing the same position and filling much the same role. Add the fact that Speights has a player option in his contract that he would have likely picked up to stay with the Grizzlies through the 2013/14 season in order to stay on a winning team, and it becomes even easier to see why he was dealt before the trade deadline.
Speights had several big games for the Grizzlies, most notably against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 4, where he put up 22 points and 13 rebounds. That was the thing about Speights. When he was on, he could really fill it up and earn his paycheck. But, more often than not, Speights played below his pay grade. If there is one positive thing that can be said for Speights about his brief tenure with the Grizzlies, it's that he always played hard and truly embraced the grit 'n grind style of play. It fit Speights well. He was never afraid to step in and take a charge, and he always had an "I refuse to be the one that lets the team down" type of attitude. While only averaging 14.5 mpg with the Grizzlies, Speights pulled down 4.7 rebounds per game in his tenure with the team. That equates to about one rebound for every three minutes of game time. That's a pretty good rebounding rate, and it was never hard to find Speights scrapping around the rim to try to come down with a board. He was also incredibly savvy on the pick and pop, and he shot above league average at most spots on the floor that are considered deep twos. This might have helped the Grizzlies in the Spurs series, but again who knows? More than Arthur? Again, probably not.
Overall, Speights production was decent in limited minutes, but not good enough to justify keeping his contract on the books. As for Grizznosity, Speights embodied the "Grizzly way" fairly quickly, but he was not in Memphis long enough for us to know how well he would embrace the community or see if well Memphibians would love him back. But, Speights gets a pass in my book for bringing maximum effort every time he stepped on the court regardless of the numbers he was putting up. When it comes to clutch performance, Speights deserved an F in my book. He scored two points in the last five minutes of a game for the forty games he played in Memphis. He also had a negative plus/minus rating of -1.5 in the last five minutes while he was with the Grizzlies. That is not clutch. But to average out his grade to make it respectable, I won't give him an F.
- Production: C
- General Grizznosity*: B
- Clutch Performance: D
Overall Grade: C
*Grizznosity- One's overall impact and representation of the Griz based on off court contributions, cultural influence, leadership, and memorable moments that comprised the 2012-13 season.