The mega-blockbuster deal between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets made for the most talked about post-All-Star break Monday in recent memory. The deal which sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in a 12-player deal, on paper is all about the here, the now and the tomorrow for the Nuggets and Knicks. However, it also affects the makeup of the Western Conference playoff push.
As it stands, the Grizzlies are tied with the Utah Jazz for the 8th seed in the West. Interestingly enough, the Denver Nuggets sit in 7th place, just one game ahead of the Grizzlies and Jazz. Even more, the Grizzlies and Nuggets face off on Tuesday night in a game which means much more now that Anthony is in New York than it may have meant just 24 hours ago.
It's easy to see how this deal positively affects the psyche of the Grizzlies and their fans. Denver is less imposing now than they were prior to the All-Star break. While the Grizzlies are geared toward making a playoff run, I don't see them shying away from being aggressive at the trade deadline. In fact, the Grizzlies have a few trade chips to play around with. Let's see if we can break down those pieces and cut through the trade rumors out there in search for a dose of reality.
I bet we would be hearing Randolph's name tossed around in trade rumors were the Grizzlies four, maybe five games out of the final spot of the playoffs. Randolph's contract is set to expire at the end of this season, which naturally makes him a desirable trade piece. Again, that would be if the Grizzlies weren't in the mix for a run at the playoffs. Randolph is too important to the Grizzlies, as their leading scorer (20.1) and top rebounder (13.2) he means more to this team especially considering that they'll be without Rudy Gay for the next four weeks.
Chances of being moved: 0%
Again, it's tough to see the Grizzlies even consider moving Gasol in the midst of a run at the playoffs. What makes Gasol an attractive asset, however, is the fact that he too is in the final year of his contract, in which he earns just $3.8 million. The offseason question remains, what do the Grizz do with Gasol. He's going to be heavily targetd even as a restricted free agent. And with Hasheem Thabeet still under contract through next season (team option in 2012), the Grizzlies need to decide when, if ever, they hand the reins over to Thabeet. Still, I can't imagine that Memphis will be taking calls for Gasol. The deal would need to be a sweetened "win now, build for the future" type of deal and those just generally aren't out there. Plus, it's hard to see Gasol not being a part of the Grizzlies future.
Chances of being moved: 0%
Now we're talking! Mayo has had a contentious season, to say the least. Mayo has regressed this season, finding himself coming off the bench and playing just 28 minutes per game. It also didn't help that during his 10-game suspension the Grizzlies went 8-2, including wins over the Magic, Thunder and Nuggets. Now in his return, Mayo still doesn't have much daylight in terms of finding himself back in the rotation. And that's even with Rudy Gay out over the next month. Sam Young will continue to start at the '2' with Tony Allen slotting into the small forward position. So where does that leave Mayo? You have to think that the Grizzlies are more than willing to listen to offers for their one-time franchise two-guard, but you also have to believe that they won't sell him for pennies on the dollar. Mayo is owed $5.6 million next season, which is reasonable for a player with his talent. Taking next season out of the equation, he is an integral part of the Grizzlies run for the playoffs this year. Can they afford to give up an 18-point per game talent right now? The price would have to be right. That's not to say there isn't a deal out there to be had, but in an ideal world Mayo would re-find his offense (he's shooting 40.7% from the floor on the season) and come off the bench playing the equivalent role of guys like Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry. In an ideal world, of course.
Chances of being moved: 15%
The Grizzlies have been aggressive in their approach at shopping Thabeet. It's almost time to cut their losses. Both Thabeet and the Grizzlies seem ready to welcome a change of pace. And the good news for the Grizzlies is that Thabeet is really one of the only "true" big man whose name is being tossed around in trade talks. That absolutely helps his value. A contender with a hole in the middle can use Thabeet's length and defensive presence. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, Gasol is the future in the middle for the Grizzlies. It really is time for the Grizz to admit their error and move on. Right now, it's likely that Thabeet is the top target on the Grizzlies. The problem is, often times the noise is much louder than the actual talk.
Chances of being moved: 50%
Aside from the players above, the Grizzlies really don't seem to be talking about moving any other players on their roster -- save maybe for a minor deal, nothing substantial. Especially now that they see daylight in the Western Conference playoff hunt. While in years past it may have been a bit disheartening to see the Grizzlies take an inactive approach at the deadline, the fact that they aren't approaching Thursday with a "build for the future" touch is good news. This only means that they know they have a winning team on their hands. One which can realistically make their first playoff appearance since 2006. And maybe even, their first playoff victory as a franchise.