Unless you have been living under a rock the past five days you know the Grizzlies have indeed traded for Jeff Green. The deal took four days and three teams to actually become official, BUT IT'S OVER, THIS NIGHTMARE OF RUMORS AND SPECULATION IS FINALLY OVER! We've gotten some of the GBB team together to talk it out and lay down the law.
GBB Roundtable: Jonah Jordan, Joe Witherwax, Joe Mullinax, C. Grrrrrbrrr, Chris Huffines, and Kevin Yeung.
1. Does the trade for Jeff Green bring the Grizzlies closer to a championship?
Jonah Jordan: I have been saying that the Grizzlies are one move away from being real championship contenders all season. Jeff Green is an upgrade over Prince and Pondexter in many ways, but depending on how he is used, this could be a disaster. If Coach Joerger figures out a way to get most of his shots around the basket and only have him shoot threes in the corner then this will work out. I think some people are hoping that he will be a much more athletic Shane Battier, but I don't know if he can do that. He's not a great three point shooter from above the break and he is going to struggle guarding some of the elite Western Conference forwards.
Joe Witherwax: Well, maybe. Green is a significant scoring upgrade from what the Grizzlies have had in recent memory at small forward. He's aggressive shooting the ball. He's been over 80% 3 of the past 4 seasons from the free throw line. He’s a career 39.8% corner 3-point shooter, and has been remarkably consistent from there. The last 4 seasons: 44.4%, 45.7%, 39.3%, and 39.4%. If you can get Green to take a high percentage of his 3s from the corner – like he did his first year in Boston – he becomes a much more efficient shooter, and especially if he can return to the 44-45% he was making when took most of his 3s from there. That ability should help spacing, but he needs to consistently take good shots to be a real asset to the Grizzlies. That's something he hasn't done enough of lately (more on that later). He was lauded coming out of college for his basketball IQ and court vision, so there's reason to hope he can improve his shot selection.
The concern is that Green is 28, and we hope that he'll be something different than he's seemed in recent years - an efficient, high-basketball-IQ scorer, and a good team defender. If he is that, this is a real step in the right direction for the Grizzlies. If he's basically what he has been, he will both help and hurt the team at times, but does likely provide better versatility than the pieces leaving.
Joe Mullinax: Closer than they were? Yes. As Chris Herrington said on GBBLive this past Thursday, you have (for this season at least) exchanged two below average NBA players for at worst an average NBA player. Some would argue Green is lower than that, but when you put the numbers and metrics together with the eye test and his general athleticism/versatility, there is no question this is an upgrade. He instantly becomes the 2nd best power forward on the roster and has the ability to score and defend at both forward positions. He also likely slides into the starting lineup as a true longer wing to play small forward, presumably alongside Tony Allen, which means Courtney Lee becomes more of a 6th man option. This is big for Courtney; he may be unhappy with the perceived demotion, but his minutes are not likely to drop too much and he will see more time against inferior opponents. It's like a fresh start, and Courtney Lee as a scorer off the bench makes the reserve unit that much more dangerous. Quincy Pondexter being moved also opens up time for Nick Calathes to get more run, or dare I say...Jordan Adams?
C. Grrrrrbrrr: Yes. Green is an exponential improvement over the roster's previous options at small forward (Quincy and Tayshaun). Although Grizzlies fans might feel a tinge of disappointment due to the Luol Deng rumors (which was probably wishful thinking to begin with), Green is a productive and athletic wing who gives us a legitimate fourth scoring option for the first time since Rudy Gay was traded. Adding Lee to the 2nd unit bolsters an already strong group, and Green provides small ball 4 versatility that will allow us to tighten up to an 8-man rotation if Vince can't get back on track.
Chris Huffines: Considering that this trade, in its essence, involves replacing the Prince/Q-Pon combo at our "small-forward-off-the-bench" spot with Green while allowing us to currently hold onto Kosta Koufos as the key to our front court depth, then Green does bring the Grizzlies closer to a championship. His athleticism and versatility are upgrades over Prince. The way he can consistently score is an upgrade over Pondexter. I can’t help but think that putting Green on a playoff team vying for a championship might refresh and revitalize his mindset. Have you seen Rondo’s recent transformation since joining the Mavericks? Also, Green won’t be asked to do as much as he might have felt forced to do for the Celtics lately, which hints at my answer to the next question…
Kevin Yeung: My Jeff Green rant happened on Twitter, but I don't think the guy is that good. 30 minutes of Green may be worse than 20 minutes of Tayshaun Prince and 10 minutes of, say, Tony Allen or Vince Carter. In a vacuum, Green is an upgrade over Prince (only slightly, though), but he'll almost definitely play more minutes than Prince. And what I see in Green is an athletic dude who lacks skill and hoops IQ. He can sort of shoot (average off the bounce from midrange and average from the corners) and can finish well in transition and catch-and-drive situations, but those are niche skills and not the ideal ones for the Grizzlies. Green's appeal lies in his ability to man the power forward position as a small-ball 4, and even then, he'll be wrecked on defense and on the boards. I'm not confident that this doesn't make the Grizzlies worse, honestly.
2. Do you think Jeff Green can adapt to being the Grizzlies' third/fourth option after his time in Boston?
Jordan: I have no idea. Much like the rest of Grizz nation, I want to believe that he can. It's impossible to tell if he can go from being the number one scoring option in Boston to possibly not taking shots for possessions at a time. The Grizzlies haven't had a two-way player like Jeff Green in a long time so I think they will have to adapt to him as much as he will have to adapt to them. It's going to be a learning experience for everyone.
Witherwax: Going back to college, Green’s always struggled when he’s the only option. On the Grizzlies, he will be the 4th option behind Conley, Gasol, and Randolph, and some nights behind Courtney Lee or Vince Carter as well. His most efficient shooting years were when playing with Durant and Westbrook and his one year with Garnett and Pierce. Being a supporting player is Jeff Green’s wheelhouse, and that’s exactly what the Grizzlies are looking for.
Mullinax: Yes I do. Jeff Green has never truly had the opportunity to be this kind of option consistently. Whether it be trade, injury or general roster makeup Green has almost always played out of role. The Zach Randolph injury should have opened everyone's eyes to what that can do to a team and its players. Only three times in his going on seven year career has he attempted 10 or less shots per game, and in two of those seasons he shot above his career average of 44%. His three point shooting has always been hit or miss, but his athleticism and ability to run in transition will be welcome on a Memphis roster where "the mud" still shows up from time to time offensively. Green will be able to create mismatches at both forward spots, and he will be more depended upon when one or more of the "big three" of Conley/Gasol/Randolph is off the floor. Especially a "stretch" four (which hopefully we see him as about 30-35% of the time) he has the potential to wreak havoc.
Grrrrrbrrr: All reports from Boston say that Green is uncomfortable playing as an alpha dog, and more importantly, that he relishes a role player status. He's also supposed to be an excellent locker room presence which will help to ease the blow of losing Tayshaun's veteran leadership. Worries about Green "pulling a Rudy" and chucking up 15-20 shots a game are, I believe, much overblown. Nobody short of LeBron James is going to come into Memphis and get the benefit of the doubt to operate like that, either with the coaching staff or our "Core Four."
Huffines: A simple gut feeling tells me that Green might have viewed his most recent Celtics days as more of a showcase for other teams as he prepared to be on a different team at some point…whether through trade or free agency…or both. He was not the first option during his days in Oklahoma City before the much-debated trade that brought Kendrick Perkins from Boston and broke up the tight-knit click that was the 2008 Celtics. Maybe he will treat his role with the Grizzlies in the same manner as the way he did when he was close to the top of Kevin Durant’s supporting cast during the Thunder’s first few seasons in existence. I believe any playoff contender would want a wing rotation that offers the versatile combinations of scoring potential and defense like the rotation consisting of Courtney Lee, Tony Allen, Vince Carter and Green. He can spell minutes for Lee (or vice versa, if he starts), and the Grizzlies won’t be sacrificing point production potential either way. If he does come off the bench, he can play the "Manu Ginobli" or the OKC version of James Harden where he can be instant offense off the bench. He is far from the "Grindfather" in terms of defense, but he is athletic enough to stay with opposing small forwards and/or wing cutters who like to take spot-up three-point shots. The Grizzlies’ culture is already established and defined. Green should embrace being part of a winning franchise and, in turn, should adapt to his new environment and surroundings.
Yeung: Adapt is an interesting word in this situation. I think, relatively speaking, he'll benefit from being slotted into a more complementary role. But I also don't think he'll be particularly good in that role, for the lack of skill explained above. Green can't shoot from the wings, but he's usually situated there so he can catch on the weak-side and drive against a scrambling defense. You could slot him in the corners, but he's only league average there – an upgrade over Prince, at the very least. Wherever the Grizzlies put him, Green should adjust comfortably. I just don't know how much good it serves the team.
3. Is giving up a 1st round pick a smart move?
Jordan: I hate it so so much. The move proves that the Grizzlies are going all in on this season while sacrificing future assets. I refuse to believe that there wasn't a deal out there for an upgrade at small forward that would have let the Grizzlies keep that future pick. Jeff Green could opt out of his contract this summer and leave so in reality the Grizzlies have given up a first rounder for someone who could only be in Memphis for four months.
Witherwax: It's really too early to say. If the Grizzlies win a championship this year, then yes. If Jeff Green maximizes his efficiencies, plays to his strengths and turns into a legitimate starting 3, then I'd also say yes. On the other hand, there are a lot of inefficiencies that make you worry that Green won't be the answer, and then you've tied up cap space and a pick on that guy.
Mullinax: Yes and no. This is a pick that the Celtics will not see until at the earliest 2019, and protections were still unknown as of this writing. Also unknown as of this writing is what these Grizzlies will look like four years from now; Marc Gasol and Mike Conley figure to still be around, but outside of those two cornerstones the rest of the roster will likely look vastly different. Is that a good different or bad different? A fair question. What you know for sure is there is a window of opportunity for Memphis to win a championship now. It may be a slim opening to some, and it is likely closing, but that sucker is open, as is the Western Conference. You hate to part with a pick that, in theory, could mean missing out on a future stud, but we are in the here an the now.
None of us know what will happen and who will be there to draft in 2019. But we do know the Western Conference is there to be won right now, and with all the time, energy, emotion and money that has been invested in the "Grit and Grind" era this front office owed it to themselves and this team and fan base to make this push. It will be in the hands of the team, Coach Joerger and his staff now to follow through and make Green the stud he potentially can be, the kind of player that can help these Grizzlies get to the promised land of the NBA Finals.
Grrrrrbrrr: It's not ideal, but if Marc and Mike re-sign, it's going to be a back of the first round pick for the foreseeable future, and those can be bought.
Huffines: This is where I really wish I knew what Marc Gasol was going to do this offseason. If I knew this was the beginning of the end in terms of our "championship window," then I would say we need to keep it. If I knew Big Spain was committed for the long haul, then I would feel better about our chances of keeping Mike Conley long-term, and then it might not matter as much, from a big-picture standpoint. I personally believe it’s really hard to gauge the value of low first-round picks, unless you have a scouting department similar to the San Antonio Spurs. If you have multiple low first-round picks, then you have flexibility to either move up in the draft or turn them into an asset. For the moment, I’m going to say that giving up that first rounder is fine. If I may just base it on recent history, Jordan Adams and Jamaal Franklin were definitely not the best first round picks in Grizzlies’ history. So, if giving it up guarantees the Grit-N-Grind a title in June, then I say…good riddance
Yeung: Two years after transferring the pick to Denver via Cleveland leaves a lot of room for uncertainty. Since the Denver pick transfers in 2017 in all likelihood, Boston may be looking at the Grizzlies' pick in 2019 and on, depending on protections. Yes, that's far off and the Grizz are in good position to win now. But a lot can happen between now and then. In 2019, Marc Gasol will be 34, Mike Conley will be 31, Zach Randolph will be 37 and probably retired. It could easily be a new age of Grizzlies hoops, and the team may have just traded away a valuable pick from that next era. Even if not, they've effectively tied their hands from trading a first-round pick (due to the Ted Stepien Rule which prevents teams from not having a first-round pick in consecutive years) again for a long time. All for Jeff Green.
4. What's your favorite Tayshaun or QPon moment?
Jordan: It has to be Quincy's dunk on Boris Diaw.
I loved Tayshaun in his time here. He was a professional no matter what and helped take the Grizzlies to new heights.
Witherwax: I think it has to be the go-go gadget dunk Tay had in the playoffs versus the Thunder.
Mullinax: My favorite Quincy Pondexter moment is the 2013 Western Conference Finals. That Quincy Pondexter looked like the answer to the Small Forward question, but unfortunately we never saw that Q again. He was great in the Memphis community though, and although his time in Memphis is ending somewhat poorly he will be missed, by me at least, and I wish him the best.
And Tayshaun...sigh...my favorite Tayshaun moment is when I forced myself to see #TheBrightSide and wrote about the positives of a guy who was playing very poorly at the time. Tayshaun is the consummate NBA professional, and it was certainly a good thing to see him play well in longer spurts this season. His value and Memphis career will likely, unfortunately, always be cloudy due to that lost season of 2013-2014 and the "Rudy Gay Trade." He did help steady a roster that made the Western Conference Finals, however, and at the least for that he deserves a hearty, heart-felt "thank you."
Grrrrrbrrr: Favorite Quincy moment: snapping a selfie with him after Game 6 against the Clippers in 2013 at some club on Beale.
Favorite Tayshaun moment: the dunk against OKC in 2013.
Huffines: I will settle on the Quincy moment for this question. I gotta go w/ the game against the Brooklyn Nets last year when he had his career night of 22 points. It seemed like he took every shot in that game - the basket was an ocean and if he missed a shot, he was still heading to the free-throw line because he got fouled on the shot.
Yeung: I enjoyed 2013 Western Conference Finals Quincy Pondexter as much as I've ever enjoyed any nobody player. And I LOVE nobody players. Also, he followed that up with the Buckets Pondexter Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as hollering at Miss Tennessee on Twitter over the offseason. I remember that entire summer as a landslide of Pondexter win.