Right before the preseason started, I began writing a post about our bench depth coming into the season. The title was going to be something along the lines of "Grizzly to Watch: Darrell Arthur," and if you hadn't guessed by the potential title, I concluded that Darrell was probably was going to be our most important player off the bench. In case you hadn't heard, that (along with my positively brilliant half-finished post) went to hell.
In a knee-jerk reaction, the Memphis' FO immediately signed FA Dante Cunningham. Now Dante's a decent player, and 3 games into the season he's played fairly well--in 13.7 minutes, he's average 5.7 points on .538 percent shooting to go along with 2.7 rebounds. Further, his game is actually quite similar to Darrell's; both of them are smart players who are primarily pick-and-pop players. However, Darrell is more athletic, a better rebounder, and runs the floor much better. Basically, DC is a poor man's DA. He'll give the Grizzlies good minutes, but I don't feel comfortable with Cunningham seeing more than 15 minutes of floor time. If the Grizzlies want to make a deep playoff run, we're going to need at least one more big to come off the bench, preferably one who is better than DC.
Fortunately, while our frontcourt depth is severely lacking, we're fully stocked at the wings. Even though Xavier Henry is missing the first month due to injury, Sam Young, a starter on last season's playoff team, is barely getting any floor time. Basically, what this means is that we should be able to trade one of our wings for frontcourt depth. Unfortunately, O.J. Mayo is the most likely candidate to be traded.
We're covered this before to mixed reactions. In the past, I've been hard on OJ, but I sincerely say that I really like the guy. Now I would much rather trade Sam or Xavier, but neither of them has enough value to bring back a proven performer. Although I don't like it, that means that OJ has to go. When you factor in contracts--OJ's contract expires at the end of the season, and we may not be able to bring him back--he's the only one that makes sense.
I've assembled a list of potential trade targets below. All of these guys could realistically be had for OJ Mayo or a similarly-valued asset(s). I say that because a shooting guard isn't necessarily a need for all of these teams, but if the Grizzlies' FO gets creative enough and brings in a third team, these players could be acquired (this is also why I didn't list their contract information or go to Trade Machine and test out possible scenarios).
Jordan Hill, Houston Rockets
After two years of looking like a bust, Hill is finally starting to put it together this season, averaging 5 points and 6 rebounds in less than twenty minutes. He has good size, can play either the 4 or 5, and score in the post. He's also a good athlete and average rebounder, but is a terrible defender. The Rockets have a lot of options in the frontcourt, having recently acquired Samuel Dalembert and drafted Marcus Morris, and probably need to trade someone.
Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana Pacers
Psycho-T was pretty polarzing in college, and lot of people still don't like him, but, seriously, he's a fine role player. He's not athletic in the slightest, but makes up for it with smarts and that damn pump fake of his. Plus, he gets to line a lot for a unathletic role-player--6.5 attempts/36 minutes. Now that the Pacers have signed David West, they may be willing to part with Hansbrough. Regardless, the Grizzlies ought to at least enquire into his availability.
Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings
I've always liked Thompson, and now that the Kings have added J.J. Hickson and Chuck Hayes, I wonder if there's a spot for him in their rotation. OJ won't add much to a backcourt with gunners like Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and the Jimmer, but maybe Memphis can get a third-team involved and get Sacramento a good small forward.
Kris Humphries, New Jersey Nets
As easy as it is to hate or mock Humphries, remember that he's a good rebounder, decent defender, and plays within his limits on offense. You can do much, much worse than Kris Humphries as a big coming off the bench.
Patrick Patterson, Houston Rockets
It's kind of funny that I write this right after Patterson goes 0-4 in 14 minutes against the Grizzlies, but I've always been a fan of Patterson. He's an average rebounder, but a good scorer and is tough as hell. In my opinion, his best comparisons would Darrell Arthur, Carl Landry, or Udonis Haslem. If he gets a chance in Houston or elsewhere, I think he'll really shine.
Cole Aldrich, OKC Thunder
I'm not sure if the Thunder would be willing to trade Aldrich as I think they're grooming him into the role of back-up center, plus they're so loaded at every position that it's difficult to tempt them. Aldrich also hasn't gotten hardly any floor time, so who knows what he's capable of. Yet, in college he was a good rebounder and defender, which usually translate to the NBA. If the Thunder are willing to listen to offers, we might want to consider making a run at Aldrich.
Anthony Randolph, Minnesota Timberwolves
Thus far into his career, Randolph has been a disappointment--unable to convert his considerable athleticism and skills into any consistent production. However, I include him on this list because I think that we could potentially get him in a trade for Sam Young. In this scenario, we'd get to keep OJ, and wouldn't lose much if AR didn't work out for us. This trade also makes sense from the Wolves' perspective because Sam is probably better than any 2-3's that they currently have on their roster (God, that's depressing if you're a Minnesota fan). As for Randolph, he'd have the chance to play for a winning team under a coach with a proven track record when it comes to developing young talent. It's not hard to imagine him becoming a solid role-player under these conditions.
Of all these guys, I like Patterson and Hansbrough the most, but would be thrilled to see Memphis trade for any of these players. Unfortunately, I just don't think standing pat with Dante Cunningham and Hamed Haddadi is an option at this point. We need a reliable big to come off the bench, and I think these players represent the best combination of talent and availability.