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Tearing Down the Grizzlies

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You want to tear down the Grizzlies? Fine. Let's do it.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

This is a thought exercise, not an endorsement. A lot of people calling for the Grizzlies to be torn down, euthanized, blown up, Grit and Grind is dead, etc - you've come to the right place. This is your home. Grit and Grind dies here.

For the purposes of this "blow up," a couple rules apply:

1). You don't "blow it up" by just trading role players. That would be sort of like a diet that calls for you to switch from Budweiser to Bud Light. We're breaking the glass. We're taking the red pill. We're going all the way. Every player on a non-rookie contracts must go. Every. Single. One.

2). No player acquired can be re-traded. There are too many permutations once you involve new players, and you have to draw the line somewhere. Besides, the point of this is not to make the team good. You can't blow it up and get better. This is about Trade Machine pain.

3). No three way trades. Again, because you gotta draw the line somewhere.

4). Perhaps most importantly, these trades operate in the real world. What I mean is it takes two to tango. You may think Mike Conley is worth more than we get. But he's on a one year deal and only so many teams can talk themselves into that. Also, we're trying to tear it down in a world where the Grizzlies owe draft picks to both the Nuggets and Celtics. Because we are tearing down the Grizzlies, they will be missing the playoffs. Therefore they will be sending their pick to the Nuggets. This is part of the deal. If you tear down a team  - truly tear it down - you live with the consequences.

The day is December 15th, coincidentally this week. This is the first day players signed in the offseason can be traded. We will now do exactly that.

Trade 1: Grizzlies trade Brandan Wright and Tony Allen to the Clippers for Lance Stephenson, Cole Aldrich, Clippers 2016 2nd round pick, and a 1st round pick (lottery protected for 1st year, top 10 2nd year, top 7 3rd year, unprotected after) to be conveyed two years after the Clippers pick owed to Toronto.

The Coup d'etat of Grit and Grind begins with Tony Allen, the patronus of GnG, and we trade him to the spiritual and aesthetic opposite of this Grizzlies team.

Lance has a team option next year for about $10mm, which the Grizzlies can shop next summer to acquire a player from a team looking to clear space. If they can't find a workable deal, then they just clear the $10mm from their books. The thing they will not be doing is picking up that option. Lance is a placeholder. The Grizzlies add a crap 2nd round pick this year, and gain a 1st round pick that will likely convey in 2019, taking some of the future sting out of the better pick they're sure to lose to Boston.

Cole Aldrich will be waived because he is Cole Aldrich.

The Clippers do this deal because they have no backup center, no real defender on the wing, Doc loves players who were good in 2008, and the Clips have no other way to acquire two rotation level players other than dealing Lance. Both players are under cost-effective contracts next year as well, so the Clippers suddenly maintain their depth for two seasons instead of one.

The teams will dicker over protection on the pick, but Doc will eventually give in because how could the Clippers possibly be bad in 2019 when Chris Paul is 34, Blake Griffin is 31, and Deandre Jordan is 32?

You could swap in Jeff Green instead of Wright and Tony, but no team would ever trade a potential lottery pick for Jeff Green (more on that in a bit).

Trade 2: Grizzlies trade Matt Barnes and Mario Chalmers to the Bulls for Aaron Brooks, Kirk Hinrich and Bobby Portis.

The Bulls may not do this, because they really like Bobby Portis, and this adds about $1mm to their luxury tax, but Barnes and Chalmers fit really well with their roster, and let's just assume they want to actually improve this year. Besides, if Chicago were really concerned with lowering their luxury tax, they could have simply stretched Aaron Brooks and saved a good amount of tax payments. The fact that that has not happened yet (similar logic applies to Hinrich), makes it possible they would not consider additional tax payments prohibitive to improving.

This trade is actually completed in parallel trades (Brooks for Barnes, Brooks is immediately waived to create the extra roster spot for the subsequent trade involving Chalmers for Hinrich and Portis), to keep the rosters balanced.

Chicago finally gets a backup point guard, one who can play next to Derrick Rose, and Matt Barnes gives them a wing with size (the rarely-spotted-in-the-wild "True Small Forward") who can help cover for Nikola Mirotic when he slides over to power forward. It costs them Bobby Portis, who won't get any minutes this year anyway.

The Grizzlies have traded four role players and netted a young power forward, a draft pick in the distant future with some upside, and I'm being somewhat optimistic that either of these deals actually happens.

But no time to think about reality now. Grit and Grind still lingers. We must press further into the hypothetical abyss.

Trade 3: Grizzlies trade Zach Randolph and Vince Carter to the Pelicans for Omer Asik, Norris Cole, and a 2016 1st round pick (lottery protected 1st year, top 7 2nd year, top 5 3rd year, changes to two 2nd round picks afterwards)

The Pelicans give up a pick, more likely than not, to fall outside the lottery to get off the worst contract in the league. The Grizzlies absorb Asik - whose hands are so rock hard they can't even absorb Purel - and his terrible horrible no good very bad contract. The Pels take back Vince Carter's $2mm guaranteed next year to push this through.

The Pelicans are one of the very, very few teams I could see wanting ZBo. The team with the most incentive to trade for ZBo is Brooklyn. Something like Jeff Green and ZBo for Joe Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but I refuse to consign ZBo to the basketball hellscape that is Brooklyn.

The Pels do this largely because they're giving up a much worse player on a much longer contract. They seem unwilling to fully commit to Davis at center, and lineups with ZBo and Davis would allow ZBo to function as the nominal center on defense. Meanwhile, both players can shoot enough on offense where spacing won't be an issue.

Asik's contract is five years, but is cost neutral this year and next with ZBo. The last three years his contract will be just 10% of the salary cap, and shouldn't affect any business the Grizzlies need to do.

Trade 4A: Grizzlies trade Jeff Green to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trade exception and the Lakers 2019 2nd round pick.

Any time you can turn a 1st round pick into a 2nd round pick you have to do it. The Cavs pick up another wing for their title run, but I fully acknowledge they may not do this deal.

The Cavs may very well opt to wait to use this cap exception until next summer, after the cap goes up and luxury tax isn't as prohibitive. Simply adding Green for nothing will cost them something like $30mm in real Quicken Loans luxury cash. The next two trades are contingent upon this one happening and represent a branch of reality where the Cavs feel that adding Jeff Green is worth $30mm.

Trade 4B: Grizzlies take Chris Anderson's $5mm salary from Heat into the $9.55mm Jeff Green trade exception, and pick up the ability to swap either the Grizzlies, Pelicans or Clippers picks in 2018 or 2019 with the Heat.

The Heat (likely in 2018) and Grizzlies (same year) both owe picks during this timeframe. This trade just buys a bit of insurance on other likely non-lottery picks, and allows Memphis to benefit from an unforeseen Heat collapse.

Meanwhile, the Heat duck the luxury tax completely, avoid being a multi-year taxpayer, and do so with only a light penalty. The Grizzlies waive Chris Anderson, and still have $4.55mm of the trade exception left. Which they will use now....

Trade 4C: Grizzlies take Steve Novak's $3.755mm salary into rest of trade exception, and regain their 2017 2nd round pick and an OKC 2018 2nd round pick from the Thunder.

The Sixers will be skulking around on both of these previous trades, so it is likely Memphis can only get their 2nd round pick back in this trade.

Now the real pain...

Trade 5: Grizzlies trade Mike Conley, Courtney Lee & Russ Smith to New York Knicks for Langston Galloway, Kyle O'Quinn, Jose Calderon, Derrick Williams, the Knicks 2018 1st round pick (unprotected) and the Knicks 2022 2nd round pick.

There are only a few teams that would feel confident in their ability to re-sign Mike Conley. The Grizzlies would call around to teams like the Jazz (unwilling to part with Hood or Exum), Magic (waited this long for their young core to grow), and Rockets (only willing to trade with Houston if they trade Lawson, Clint Capela and Terrance Jones) but in the end there just aren't many teams willing to give up long term assets for what could be an 8 month rental.

The Knicks could try to sign Conley outright next year, but having Bird Rights on him in the summer would give them a leg up in completing that dream, and with Conley, Lee, Melo, Robin Lopez and Porzingis in the fold, they have the makings of an actual basketball team that is attractive to actual good basketball players.

Picking up Kyle O'Quinn on his cheap contract is an asset. By putting Jose Calderon next to Langston Galloway and Jordan Adams, the two younger shooting guards will have the ball in their hands a ton, with a reliable shooter next to them to provide a bit of spacing (no comment on the defense).

The Knicks kick in an unprotected pick because the Grizzlies take $11mm of 2016-2017 salary between Jose Calderon and Derrick Williams in a sneaky salary dump, and the 2022 2nd round pick is in here because it is the earliest the Knicks can trade a 2nd round pick, and that must be mentioned because it's hilarious.

My daughter is 4 months old right now. She will be in 3rd grade when the Knicks will have a 2nd round pick again.

Trade 6: Grizzlies trade Marc Gasol & James Ennis to Boston Celtics for David Lee, Jordan Mickey, the Nets '16 2nd round pick, the more favorable of BOS/BKN pick in 2017, and MEM future 1st round pick back.

Once upon a time, the Grizzlies traded a Gasol for "four 1st round picks." The Grizzlies do so again. David Lee was a first round pick! Jordan Mickey should have been a 1st round pick, they get the sweet Nets pick, and then they also get their pick back.

{Does math in head, carries the one, squints at paper.}

Yep, that equals four.

Boston has to do this. They get Gasol without giving up this year's Nets pick, Avery Bradley, or Marcus Smart. Memphis gets their future 1st pick back, clearing the timetable for a long rebuild. I feel comfortable the Nets will continue to be terrible, so I don't view their 2017 pick as much worse than the 2016 pick. Jordan Mickey is under contract for 4 years at less than 2% of the salary cap, and the BKN 2nd round pick will be in the low 30's making it a decent asset on it's own.

Grizzlies roster post trades

Vets/dead money:

David Lee, Omer Asik, Jose Calderon, Lance Stephenson, Kyle O'Quinn, Derrick Williams, Norris Cole, Steve Novak, Kirk Hinrich

Young players: Langston Galloway, Bobby Portis, Jordan Adams, Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey, JaMychal Green

Grizzlies assets post trade:

1st round picks: Nets/Celtics 2017, Pelicans 2017, Grizzlies 2018, Knicks 2018, Clippers 2019

Pick swap rights: Heat 2018-2019

2nd round: Nets 2016, Clippers 2016, Lakers 2017, Grizzlies 2017, Thunder 2018, Knicks 2022

It's not great. The best assets are the Nets pick swap, the 2018 Grizzlies pick, and Bobby Portis. The rest are just lottery tickets. The Grizzlies 2016 created about $14mm extra cap space next year, giving them a total of $48mm - nearly enough for two max free agents who will not sign for a team whose best player is Langston Galloway. I'll still be throwing max money at Evan Fournier, and probably Jordan Clarkson, if for no other reason than to make two other young teams overpay to keep their guys.

The Grizzlies have no pick in 2016, so we must wait until 2017 for the rebuild to truly begin. The Grizzlies will have two likely top five picks - their own, and Brooklyn's, and could get another if they're bad enough in 2018. That's the real core of the rebuild. Or, you know, we could just keep this team we all really love. Whichever.