ICYMI: The Memphis Grizzlies are actively trying to obtain Jeff Green from the Boston Celtics, or Luol Deng from the Miami Heat. Pulling off either move would obviously make a big impact on the Grizzlies in both the immediate and distant future, so we've assembled some of the GBB crew to evaluate what's at stake here.
GBB Roundtable: Keith Edwards, Andrew Ford, Joe Mullinax, Joe Witherwax, and Marco Delgado
1) First off, which of these two players do you feel is a better fit for the Grizzlies? What worries you most about either player coming to Memphis?
Keith: Loul Deng. Deng is a guy I've been wanting for sometime. His style of play fits in well with what the Grizzlies want to do. My only concern is how invested he would be. He looked completely disinterested in playing with Cleveland last year, and his play was evidence of that. He will also make $10 million next year.
Andrew: Luol Deng without a doubt is the better player and a better fit. He is a solid defender who brings length that the Grizzlies don't currently have to guard prototypical small forwards, and he also is a guy who can spot up on the perimeter and knock down threes with consistency. Deng's usage rate is probably higher than what it should be and what would be good for the Grizzlies, but that's an issue that can likely be worked around given the other skills he brings to the table.
My biggest concern about Jeff Green coming to Memphis would be his lack of fit. He shoots far too many mid-range jumpers despite being no good at them, he hasn't shot the ball well from deep this season, and I don't know where he fits defensively, especially if Tayshaun Prince is the player dealt to acquire him. As for Deng, I don't think the Grizzlies have much of a shot there because I don't think they have any assets the Heat really want, but my biggest concern is that people on Twitter would say "Jeff Green would have been so much better as a Grizzly than Luol Deng" after any bad game Deng has.
Mullinax: Luol Deng, without a doubt. He is a warrior, has played in pressure situations and hellacious playoff series, and would fit in with this Grizzlies roster well. Green, while a talented scorer, is almost too much of a tweener in terms of position and isn't the all-around player that Deng is. Being inserted in the ultra-competitive West may also make Green shrink from the moment a bit; Deng would attack it. While Green would be at worst Memphis' 5th best player, the price to pay (draft picks) may be too high.
Witherwax: I think it's Deng, easily. He's a better defender, has more playoff experience, and is shooting 47% on corner 3s this season - and, despite his longer career, Deng is actually only a year older than Jeff Green. He's a guy you could plug into the starting lineup right now and be happy with. Green would need some work to be the player the Grizzlies want and may never be that.
The contracts worry me with both. With Green, I don't see the production to match the contract, and he'd likely be here through next season. With Deng, there's a long history of injury. In both cases, the contracts would restrict the Grizzlies' offseason moves after presumably maxing Marc. I think the Grizzlies' depth helps with Deng - you can rest him occasionally during the regular season and hopefully have him fresh for the playoffs.
Marco: Jeff Green is my choice. He's a versatile wing who can defend and shoot, and he is still 28 years old. If he adapts to the role the Grizzlies will give him, I think he could be a tremendous addition once playoffs time is on.
I am an optimistic guy, but his inefficiency is a bit scary. But c'mon, it has to be nice to have a better wing than Prince and Pondexter, right?
2) Assuming Tayshaun is part of a deal, what other trade pieces would you be willing to include for either Green or Deng? What assets are off the table in your eyes? (Keep in mind that the Grizzlies 1st round pick is basically in cryostasis with Denver until 2019.)
Keith: Talent requires talent, or at least the hope of it. That being said, I'm not sure who, outside of Kosta Koufos, Quincy Pondexter, and Jon Leuer, I'd be comfortable parting with. Courtney Lee is an attractive trade piece, but are we really comfortable giving up our best shooter for a career 33% 3-point shooter? I'm not.
Andrew: I would strongly consider throwing Quincy Pondexter into any trade right now given his perpetual poor play. I also get the feeling that Q-Pon is not particularly well-liked in the locker room, and he and Joerger have never seen eye to eye, so it might be time to part ways. The problem with trading Prince for either guy is that it would necessitate another move. Is Green or Deng going to be the Grizzlies backup power forward? No. Therefore, the Grizzlies would have to make another move, either via trade or a signing. That's risky. As for assets that are off limits, everybody except Pondexter, Prince, Jon Leuer, and Kosta Koufos should be off limits when talking about trading for Green or Deng.
Mullinax: It would take a first round pick...or first round talent. The only unavailable pieces as far as I'm concerned are Gasol and Conley, although Randolph is almost surely an untouchable at this point as well. Luol Deng for Tayshaun Prince and Jordan Adams works in the Trade Machine, and Miami has only one true SG on the roster, Dwayne Wade. Miami, possibly, pulls the trigger on that deal, but you lose a piece that the Grizzlies are pretty high on. Boston appears to be interested in draft picks, and have multiple SG options moving forward. Would Boston take Tayshaun's expiring and Quincy Pondexter alone for Green? It's hard to see that happening.
Witherwax: I think Leuer, Pondexter, and Calathes would be fair game in either trade. Zach, Marc, and Mike are definitely off the table, but past that, I'm not sure in the Deng trade. I wouldn't want to give up Lee or the rookies (especially Adams), but you might have to include one of them to get him. I'd be more willing to give up Koufos (provided we get a decent backup C back somehow) or Vince Carter.
Marco: I really think Quincy Pondexter needs a change of scenery. The expiring contract of Prince might be attractive as well for the Celtics. I don't know about Koufos. And as for the rookie Adams, sorry Celtics (I know you like him), but he is off the table. He should remain a Grizzly, no matter what.
3) Do you feel that it's imperative for the Grizzlies to make a move to remain legitimate contenders this season? Is it worth going all-in right now to sacrifice future financial flexibility?
Keith: To answer that question, you have to answer another: What is the value of a championship? The Grizzlies are in a pretty incredible position, with a deep and talented team, and have as good a shot as anyone at winning the NBA Finals this year. If they go all in and win it this year, is it worth trying to navigate cap hell for the next two or three seasons? Do they think they have a better shot in a year or so, with more miles on the legs of Conley and Gasol, ZBo and TA nearing the finish line, and with some other hypothetical wing they've enticed to sign during the offseason? The playoffs are such a crap shoot, and it's tough to make a move to go all in considering everything that could happen, but if there were ever a year to double down, this would be it.
Andrew: This question makes me feel sick. On one hand, I'm not sure this Grizzlies team as currently constructed is strong enough to come out of the West in the playoffs. Therefore, the logical thing to do would be to make a move to try to bolster the roster. On the other hand, it's really tough to tell just how good this Grizzlies team is going to be. They've hit a low point this season with Zach Randolph out, and I'd like to see him back in the lineup before jumping to any conclusions about what this team is (or isn't).
I rarely think it's worth going all-in at the expense of future financial flexibility, but I'm not sure when the Grizzlies will ever have a better chance to make an NBA Finals appearance than right now. So, I guess the answer is yes, it is worth going all-in right now.
Mullinax: The Western Conference is stout. The Zach Randolph injury has clouded the end game a bit, but the competition is either going to get healthier (San Antionio, OKC) or better via moves (Dallas, Houston) as the season moves along. This team does not have a legitimate longer wing. Trading for Deng or Green only pushes back the free agency flexibility a year to 2016, and considering the likelihood that players such as Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and others will not be available/in the Grizzlies' prince range, Deng or Green may be Memphis' best bet for this 2 year window of possible contention.
The West is wide open. The arms race is under way. The Grizzlies would be wise to join the fun.
Witherwax: The most important thing right now is Zach Randolph's health. If Z-Bo isn't healthy late this season and in the playoffs, making this move isn't going to move the needle a lot. I think the Grizzlies would be wise to see how he's doing before making a move.
For Deng, I think it's worth it, if Z-Bo (and Marc and Mike, of course) is healthy. If not, you keep your assets (or trade for more), and do your best with what you have this year.
Marco: I think basketball life is very tough out there in the West. And maybe this is the year to just put everything in and go for the big trophy. Leonard and Durant aren't going to lose easily in the playoffs, so I'm all in for Green. No risks, no rings.