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Memphis Grizzlies Trade Speculation: How to acquire a backup point guard?

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It was written long ago, that the Grizzlies were doomed to struggle at backup point guard. Let's end the cycle. Everyone loves firing up the trade machine! Let's get the Grizzlies a point guard!

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There are ten year olds out there who wonder if they will ever live in a world where the Memphis Grizzlies have a good backup point guard. That is the cross that incumbent backup point guard, Nick Calathes, must bear.  If given their druthers, many Grizzlies fans would handle Calathes like Poot and Bodie handled Wallace (sorry folks, that clip is a little too vulgar to link to).

But that's not the point of this article. The Grizzlies shouldn't give up on Calathes yet. Giving up on any player just six months into their NBA careers is foolishness - unless of course his name is Hasheem Thabeet.

Conventional wisdom is now that Marc Gasol has returned, the Grizzlies have a logjam in the frontcourt. Pair that strength with the glaring weakness at the backup point guard, and it stands to reason that Kosta Koufos or Ed Davis should be the most likely players to be traded for a backup point guard.

There may be backup point guards worth trading Ed Davis or Kosta Koufos straight up, but I can't seem to find one. If the goal is to extract as much value for an asset as possible, then swapping a productive big for a backup point guard just isn't doing it. Take, for instance, Kirk Hinrich. He would be an instant upgrade at backup point guard. but how many minutes will Hinrich play? Fifteen? And while Hinrich could conceivably play alongside Conley,  should he play over Courtney Lee or Tony Allen? Child please.

One way to make up some of the value is to deal for a combo style guard that could conceivably steal minutes from Courtney Lee and Tony Allen at shooting guard this year, and potentially the next. At the very least, that type of player increases your roster flexibility going forward.

Recently on the Chris Vernon Show, Chris Herrington suggested that the Grizzlies may want to be 100% certain of what Gasol can do before trading one of their other bigs.  While that logic is readily apparent, I take a slightly different view.

It would be in the Grizzlies best interest to deal sooner rather than later, as their chances of acquiring secondary assets diminishes with each team that finds itself out of the playoff hunt.  We're looking at you Charlotte, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Cleveland. Heck, the Grizzlies are in this very same boat. Another injury could spell the end of the season. In another month there will be fewer teams in the playoff picture, and those teams will be looking towards next year. Not only will they be less likely to make a deal with the Grizzlies, but the market may become flooded with more bigs that other teams could prefer to Koufos or Ed Davis.  Either way, the Grizzlies need sweetenerslike young players and draft picks to make a Koufos or Davis deal palatable.

So without further ado:

The Hidden Incumbent


Photo credit: Justin Ford - USA TODAY Sports

8). Courtney Lee - No seriously. Lee should be a legitimate option. I've picked nits at a ton of Coach Joerger's late game decisions, but I have to give him credit for playing Courtney Lee as the de facto point guard late in the win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In situations where you're only buying two to three possessions, putting Lee out there is an acceptable solution, provided the Grizzlies play slow, and in such a way that all Lee has to do is dribble up court and feed the ball to either the high or low post. Whatever you give up in offense, you gain back through Lee's defense (better than Calathes) and shooting (when playing through the post, having another shooter is a bonus, even if he can't truly handle the ball).

Memphis won't survive running the ball through Zach Randolph in the post (quietly posted a terribly inefficient 9-27 vs OKC, though several of his misses resulted in free throws) for very long. They need a backup point guard. But for small spots like Tuesday night, Lee is more than adequate. If the playoffs started tonight, Lee would be the emergency point guard, and the Grizzlies would be fine, provided Conley never got in foul trouble.

Casting Lee in this role would allow the Grizzlies to ignore need and focus on making the best asset play they can.

The Miscast Young Vet


Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY Sports

7). Brandon Knight - Would I trade a starting level big for Ridnour? No. Brandon Knight on the other hand? Very possibly. Fact: Brandon Knight has never played on a good team that asked him to do one thing well. Instead, he's played on bad teams that ask him to be a starting point guard. Could he succeed playing 15 - 20 minutes a night, sometimes as the secondary ball handler next to Mike Conley? He would have the exact same year and a half audition that Ed Davis got before the Grizzlies had to decide on his future, after which they'd control his rights.

That is a crucial part of this deal. Dealing for a vet like Ridnour or Hinrich on a one year deal means they can walk after six months as an unrestricted free agent. Players still on their rookie deals become restricted free agents, and that means their former team has the option to match any deal, giving them much more leverage to negotiate a sign and trade.

The trick would be getting another piece from Milwaukee. They have plenty of extra 2nd round picks, and no picks owed. Getting a few of these would make a Knight deal palatable.

The Unknowns

6). Allen Crabbe - If you're an Unknown, you don't get a picture. You'll just have to trust me that the next two guys do, in fact, exist.  Trading a legitimate starting big for a player that has registered less than 50 minutes of NBA game time seems insane. But the Grizzlies have history with Crabbe - nearly trading for him on draft night. Also working in Memphis' favor: Portland may think they are one defensive minded big from winning the NBA title. Adding Koufos to this team solves a lot of their problems. Portland has shown a willingness to give up picks for players, so maybe they wouldn't mind trading a 2016 1st rounder and the rights to swap in 2015 or 2017, and Crabbe for Koufos. I'd have a meeting on that deal.

5). Brian Roberts - It's rare to find a 28 year old who is only in their second year in the NBA, but that is Brian Roberts. Along with Mike Scott, Roberts is one of my favorite anonymous guys in the league. He is an above average 3 pt shooter, takes great care of the ball, and is legitimately a better player than any of the Luke Ridnour, Andre Miller, Kirk Hinrich veteran backup point guard pupu platter that people talk about routinely.

Another thing to like about Roberts: the Pelicans owner desperately wants to win now, and they have no center.  They may not go for a 1st round pick, but what about the rights for Memphis to swap picks in 2015 or 2016, and a 2nd round pick?

Or.... could the Grizzlies take a gamble that the recently re-injured Ryan Anderson gets healthy for playoff time? He has a herniated disk, will be out for 2 months, and may need surgery after that. The Pelicans could view Anderson as a sunk cost, at which point adding Tayshaun Prince and Jamal Franklin to the deal may be enough to get Anderson. Food for thought. At least for me.

The Villian


Photo credit: Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

4). Evan Turner - I know, I know. Half of our readers are howling that Memphis could never get this guy, and the other half of our learned readers (whose eyebrows, I suspect, have by now traveled all the way to the back of his/her bald head) are wondering why we would ever want another Rudy Gay. So, could the truth be somewhere in the middle?

Turner's skill set is intriguing, and the trade as a pure asset play, is really interesting. Turner's height would allow him to play alongside Conley as a secondary ballhandler, and his assist rate is not terrible (roughly James Johnson-ish) for someone who also takes a ton of shots.

As an asset play, the Grizzlies would control Turner's rights entering his impending free agency, allowing them to match any deal, or give them sign-and-trade leverage to acquire something (picks, trade exception, what-have-you) in return. Another thing to consider: the NBA is at war with the exact type of player that Turner purports to be: inefficient volume shooters. Players like Rudy Gay, Jamal Crawford and Nick Young are increasingly becoming marginalized, and finding dollars harder to come by. Will that stop some team from offering Evan Turner a 4 yr $40mm deal? Probably not. It only takes one player to skew the market. Still, Turner is an intriguing fit for the remainder of this year, and maybe Turner finds the dollars in the summer a little harder to come by.

The real questions with Turner are:

1). Is it worth gambling on a guy that seems happiest not fitting into a role?

2). Is there a deal to be made with Philadelphia?

I'd argue no to the former, but yes to the latter. Turner wants to take shots, and have the ball in his hands. But he's never played with a player as good as Marc Gasol or Mike Conley (though there's a 50% chance he thinks he's better than both). Still there's a non-zero chance that playing on a legitimately good team scares Turner straight.

As for the deal with Philly, they will not match a big offer sheet from Turner this summer. They are probably not getting a 1st round pick for him either (although Charlotte could have something to say about that). Would they take Koufos straight up as the better asset to hopefully trade away next year? In terms of real value, Koufos is more valuable than a pick at the end of the first round, even in this draft.

The Hidden Gem


Photo credit: Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

3). Matthew Dellavedova - The deal is easy, perhaps easier than any other. Koufos to Cleveland for C.J. Miles expiring, Memphis' future pick back, and Dellavedova. Cleveland gets a true center to help their playoff push, and gives up little value this year. This deal would also be fun because it completes the cycle where Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, and Kosta Koufos would be traded for Jon Leuer, C.J Miles, and Delladova.

Dellavedova is a rookie who has played more minutes than both Andrew Bynum and the number one pick in last year's draft, Anthony Bennet. Why? Because he can shoot (43.6%, though on few attempts), something the Grizzlies could really use.

I've seen Dellavedova play in person. And even though Dion Waiters made him go sit in the corner while Waiters took all of the shots, Dellavedova looked like he belonged. He's 6'4" and looks comfortable with the ball in his hands. Though I can't find a stat to quantify this, I'm pretty sure dude has stones. It's just a hunch. I just like the way he acts as if he belongs on the court with two former number one picks, both of whom play zero defense. In the picture above, Dellavedova stares directly into Wade's eyes; Wade blinks first.

The Best Fits


Photo credit: Jennifer Stewart - USA TODAY Sports

2). Jimmer Fredette - I wrote that the Grizzlies should try to acquire Fredette in the pre-season, and what I wrote then is no less true now. The warts are clear. He is abysmal at defense. He turns the ball over too much. And he is struggling to find minutes on a terrible Kings team, mostly because he can't play next to Isaiah Thomas who, on some nights, is the Kings best player.

But he can shoot. Oh man, can he shoot. Here's an artist's rendering of The Jimmer:

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Even throwing out this year's astronomical 48.7 3% (he's only taken 39 threes all year), there is no reason to believe The Jimmer is anything but one of the best shooters in the entire NBA. Every team lives with one player being a bad defender. The Heat won a championship with Ray Allen. The Mavs with JJ Barea. The Spurs came a few seconds short with Gary Neal. Asking Fredette to play a few minutes a night, flanked by some combination of Lee, Allen, Double J, Ed Davis and Mark Gasol gives Fredette a much better chance than playing next to Rudy Gay, Demarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton.

What's more, both Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos fit in Sacramento. The Grizzlies could conceivably give them their choice of the two for Jimmer and the rights to swap 1st round picks in a future year.


Photo credit: Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

1). Ramon Sessions - Sessions has been a journeyman his whole career. He has his weaknesses - he is not a good 3 pt shooter, nor is he committed to defense.  And since he is on just a one year deal, he would be something of a stopgap fix. But Sessions has done one thing really well his entire career: he gets to the foul line. A ton of Sessions shots end with him at the charity stripe - better than one out of every two. As a percentage of shots, Sessions boasts a better Free Throw Rate this year than Kevin Durant, and is within throwing distance of James Harden. The fact that so many of Sessions' shots result in free throws makes his roughly 40 FG% look much better.

Charlotte has potentially three 1st round picks in the upcoming draft. Memphis could offer Koufos (a great fit alongside Al Jefferson) for their worst pick in the 1st round, and a future 2nd round pick. That's a pretty great haul, and one I'd endorse. After all, it was my idea.