With Lamar Odom, Carlos Boozer, Michael Beasley, Emeka Okafor, Tyson Chandler, Tyrus Thomas and David Lee all rumored to be in flux, I thought it might be pertinent to look at all the options the Grizzlies' had when they set out to retool their frontcourt this offseason. Of course the Grizzlies real decision was to draft Hasheem Thabeet with the #2 pick, trade Darko for Quentin Richardson, and then turn Richardson into Zach Randolph.
Since rebuilding the front court was arguably the story of the Grizzlies' offseason, an in-depth discussion of several other paths the Grizzlies could have taken is going to be my focus during the upcoming. Today I'm going to be laying out a few other options the Grizzlies could have taken, with descriptions and short preliminary discussion on each route. Hit up the comments section with any of your own ideas and I'll evaluate adding them and posting on them more in-depth later this week. And remember, the closing question for each of these posts will be "If you could throw Chris Wallace into a black hole to go back in time and do this deal, would you?"
Option #1: "Hustler's anthem"- Everyone knows that the Knicks are completely unwilling to add any salary prior to the 2010 offseason. They absolutely must have enough cap space for one max contract and one near maximum contract, or their entire plan will be ruined. Enter David Lee's contract expiring one season early. Lee led the league in double-doubles last season, and is maybe the premier hustle player in the NBA. The Grizzlies seemed prepared to offer him about 4 years at $10 million a year prior to trading for Randolph. Alternatively the Knicks may have signed Lee and then traded him for Darko's and his expiring, just as they did with Quentin Richardson. Who knows what we might have done with the #2 pick in this scenario, and who knows what we might have done with the extra several million in cap space had the sign-and-trade been completed.
Option #2: "Always on the run"- After the draft, it was rumored that the either the Heat had offered the Grizzlies last year's #2 pick Michael Beasley for this year's #2 pick. Or vice-versa; it was never clear who offered the deal to who. In hindsight it seemed clear that the Grizzlies had to have made the offer, as there seems to be no way that they would have turned down this deal. More on this misconception in the full-length post. In this scenario the Grizzlies likely would have held onto Darko as a backup center and expiring contract, and would have been incredibly dangerous with an up-tempo attack. Adding Beasley would have quickly solidified the Grizzlies as one of the most explosive young cores in the league, and one of the worst defensive units for years to come.
Option #3: "Too short"- Besides David Lee, Utah's Paul Millsap was possibly the most sought after restricted free agent this season. Millsap was a late round steal because despite destroying college competition, he was seen as too small to be a starting power forward in the NBA. But last year with Boozer injured Millsap looked just as at home in Utah's system as the incumbent All-Star. Utah matched Portland's offer for around $8 million a year, but would they have matched another couple million? Probably not without an assurance they could move Boozer.
Option #3b: "Not too short"- Carlos Boozer needs no introduction. He is on the block right now with Millsap back on Utah's payroll. It's difficult to pinpoint just what kind of package Utah wants for Boozer's services, as whatever Chicago and Miami are currently offering just isn't enough to get the deal done. Still, clearly this is a possibility.
Option #4: "Finally in position"- Part of Emeka Okafor's struggles over his entire career have been directly related to his being forced to play out of position almost his entire career. The Bobcats force Emeka into the center position by failing to acquire a better option, and Emeka has struggled to bang with much better players night in and night out. Now he is apparently on the move for Tyson Chandler, who wasn't even allowed to be traded to the Thunder in a salary dump last season.
Option #5: "Back to last summer"- It's no secret the Bulls are shopping Tyrus Thomas around the league aggressively. Tyrus is basically a far less polished version of Josh Smith, who the Grizzlies targeted last in the last offseason. He would have been an interesting, but terrifying acquisition, just as Smith would have been last year. Again, it's very difficult to say just what the Bulls might have wanted for Tyrus, but they clearly want out of his contract and the migraines he gives young coach Vinny Del Negro.
Option #6: "Look we love Zach too, but..."- The Clippers were trading someone out of their front court with Blake Griffin on the way, and almost nobody thought Zach would be the one to move because of his onerous contract. Instead they were expected to ship either Chris Kaman or Marcus Camby. Neither is really a true power forward, but both are probably capable of playing the position. These guys wouldn't have been excellent fits on the Grizzlies, yet they are much more valuable and less expensive than Randolph.
Option #7: "Take your pick" Who knows what the Timberwolves are doing right now, and what it takes to make trades with them. One thing we can be almost certain about, however, is that the Wolves would have been willing to part with either Kevin Love or some package of picks to trade up for the #2 selection in this year's draft. Of course other players would have been included, and things might have gotten hairy. Once the dust settled, however, the Grizzlies likely would have ended up with Jordan Hill and an extra pick or Kevin Love. This will be a very interesting investigation, and I might have to bring the boys at Canis Hoopus in for a guest spot.
Alright, so now you know what to expect on Straight Outta Vancouver during the next week or so pending any big news, which is probably unlikely at this point in the offseason. Be sure to post any other time warp scenarios in the comments or fan section, and if they're reasonable I'll dig up the stats and news to support their investigation. Remember, every scenario will not only be evaluated for sufficiency, but also viability. I'm looking forward to seeing what other deals all the arm-chair GM's around SB Nation can imagine.