As the NBA off-season continues to crawl along and training camps prepare to open, fans of all 32 teams in the Association are discussing and debating their chances for the coming year. Some, like us Grizzamaniacs, are anxiously awaiting the beginning of the season and are contemplating where the team will end up seeded in the wide open Western Conference. Heat fans are hoping for another title, Spurs fans are hoping that time will continue to not exist in San Antonio and Clippers fans should be terrified because DeAndre Jordan is still on their team. For most teams, the beginning of any campaign is full of hope and renewal, lofty goals and big dreams of trophies and championship parades. For most teams...
For several teams in the NBA, however, it appears as if their goals and aspirations are more similar to those of elderly women in a bingo hall than world-class basketball organizations. Their focus is on the eventual bouncing of ping pong balls, hoping to win the lottery and the golden ticket known as Andrew Wiggins. But even if you miss out on Wiggins, between Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and others analysts and writers around the NBA have said that this 2014 NBA Draft could be a historically great one. The Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers are all examples of teams that appear to want to increase their odds at getting their hands on a potential future superstar, even if it means not being very good this season.
So how does this relate to the Memphis Grizzlies? As was discussed in my piece on Zach Randolph here, Zach could be on the move in the near future. And Z-Bo is not the only guy potentially on the trading block; rumors and discussed deals involving Jerryd Bayless and Tayshaun Prince have also been floated around. The new front office has shown in a limited sample size that they are interested in finding key players for the future (Ed Davis), pieces that fit the roster as constructed (Tayshaun, no Tony Wroten) and balance (Kosta Koufos). Whether it is through a two-team or three-team deal, the Grizzlies could find solid young players to help create better spacing for a smaller price tag, all while helping teams who are interested in either growing into more of a contender with a Z-Bo or are just trying to hit fast forward and lessen the bottom line of their check books for the coming year.
So, without further ado, the "Arm Chair GM" has constructed two possible scenarios, containing three deals, that would help the Grizz this coming season while taking advantage of the phenomenon known as "tanking."
This is a situation where the Grizzlies find a friend in the tanking Suns. Phoenix took Alex Len with their first round pick in the draft this year and would probably like him to develop through minutes during the season. They also get a solid veteran leader for a young team in Prince and two draft picks. Milwaukee has a dominant defensive big in Larry Sanders and a possible future stud in John Henson but little post scoring. Marcin Gortat would provide that at a cheaper price than say, a Zach Randolph. And with the addition of Carlos Delfino, Gary Neal and O.J. Mayo, a player of Ilyasova's skill set from range is not as necessary. A starting 5 of Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Caron Butler, Larry Sanders and Marcin Gortat with a bench of Luke Ridnour, Neal, Delfino, John Henson and Zaza Pachulia would be quite impressive and likely worthy of the 6 or 7 seed in the East.
Meanwhile, Ilyasova fits in beautifully with the Grizzlies. His rebounding and ability to shoot the 3 are excellent and would be a big upgrade offensively at the 3 in spots (probably not the best long term solution at Small Forward, but more on that later), plus as a spacing 4 with Gasol he would create all sorts of match-up difficulties. Here are highlights of arguably his best game this past season, a 26 point 17 rebound performance against the Miami Heat.
A solid talent who would improve the Grizzlies. Now, a trade like this would likely mean the end of Zach Randolph as a Grizzly, since Ersan is a better Power Forward than Small Forward. Hence, this scenarios involves a second deal, involving Z-Bo.
Memphis Grizzlies Receive- Thaddeus Young, CJ Miles. Philadelphia 76ers Receive- Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee. Cleveland Cavaliers Receive- Zach Randolph
The Z-Bo era ends, but it in a round about way is for 4 players; Thad Young at the starting Small Forward spot, Miles who can shoot the 3 off the bench, and the cap room to resign both Ed Davis and Quincy Pondexter this off-season. Cleveland doesn't get Kevin Love or DeMarcus Cousins, but they get a solid All-Star caliber player and bruiser to pair alongside Andrew Bynum in Randolph. And Philly gets Varejao and Alonzo Gee. Varejao can dominate the boards when healthy, and Gee has starter experience. And if neither of them work out, that is kind of the point, they are trying to tank. So if the Grizz were able to pull two deals like this, here would be the depth chart-
Point Guard- Mike Conley, Nick Calathes, Jerryd Bayless
Shooting Guard- Tony Allen, Jerryd Bayless, CJ Miles
Small Forward- Thaddeus Young, Quincy Pondexter, Mike Miller, CJ Miles
Power Forward- Ersan Ilyasova, Ed Davis, Jon Leuer
Center- Marc Gasol, Kosta Koufos
A pretty solid group.
Last but not least, a trade that is separate from the two above.
Memphis Grizzlies Receive- Jeff Green. Orlando Magic Receive- Tayshaun Prince, Jerryd Bayless, 2014 2nd Round pick from Memphis, 2014 1st Round Pick from Boston (via Brooklyn). Boston Celtics Receive- Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, 2015 2nd Round Pick from Orlando (via LA Lakers.)
The deal above would reward Orlando for taking on Tayshaun's contract with a 1st round pick in the all important 2014 NBA Draft. Boston would be willing to deal that pick because Brooklyn should be a top 10 team next season, so that pick will likely be above 20th overall anyway. They will hold on to the later year's picks, which will likely have more value as Pierce and Garnett retire. Boston gains an above average starting SG in Afflalo to pair with Rondo in the back court plus a solid young role player in Harkless, who Orlando no longer needs with the development of Tobias Harris.
In addition, you should remember that the Celtics appear to be tanking for a future superstar; Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins would likely play a similar style and position to Green (if you think Green is not a SF you may want to read this perspective from CelticsBlog.) Memphis gets a prolific scorer at the SF position in Green who shot about 39% from three last season. He is also a big SF at 6'9 who can play the Power Forward spot in small ball lineups. His defensive skill set would need to improve, but under Coach Joerger and with Tony Allen as a mentor that aspect of his game would likely grow and develop.
Which of the deals above do you think would be best for the Grizzlies? Are there any that you can think of that could be made that weren't mentioned? Are the deals above unrealistic in your eyes? Feel free to comment and join in on the arm chair GM fun.