The season is finally upon us, thank the gods and goddesses of basketball heaven! And since the season is here that means only four plus months until the trade deadline, which meeeeeaaaannnns it’s officially not too early to start speculating about potential trades (is it ever too early?).
The Memphis Grizzlies have been active in the trade market over the last few seasons, acquiring and also unloading Jeff Green as well as Courtney Lee, picking up Mario Chalmers and Chris “Birdman” Andersen for Beno Udrih, trading Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi for Ed Davis in the team’s first big trade since Pau Gasol, snaking Jon Leuer away from Cleveland, and on and on. This team is no stranger to the inner workings of NBA wheeling and dealing, so I’d like to propose three guards who could come in and have an immediate impact at a position of weakness.
(Chris Wallace/Robert Pera if you’re reading this, hit me up. I’ve got tons of other great ideas and will soon be gainfully unemployed.)
Anthony Morrow, Oklahoma City Thunder
I’ve been on the Anthony Morrow to Memphis train for quite some time. When he was a free agent in the summers of both 2013 and 2014, I thought the pickup would be a no-brainer for the Grizzlies. A known shooter who never played big minutes was the perfect type of low risk gamble the Grizzlies should have been looking for. Morrow instead signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, then a three year deal with the Thunder in 2014.
Well guess what? Morrow, at age 30, is in the last year of that three-year, $10 million deal, and will be owed $3.4 million this season according to spotrac.com. He’s on a very trade-able contract, and is also on a team that has the potential for implosion. Russell Westbrook should be able to carry the load for OKC all by himself because he is not a human being (in the Superman way; not in the Lil’ Wayne way). But if he were to find himself injured, OKC would seriously have to think about a full-on tank, at which point Morrow becomes even more expendable.
There’s no way OKC takes Vince Carter for Morrow straight up. So, throw in a juicy, young, relative unknown like JaMychal Green (or Jarrell Martin), and this trade makes sense for both sides. OKC may even be persuaded to throw in a Josh Huestis, Cameron Payne (probably not), or Nick Collison to even out salaries and/or make room in the rotation for Green.
Memphis has always needed shooting, and Morrow would provide that. He’s a career 42.5 percent shooter from deep, and though his per game numbers took a drastic dip last year, his per 36 minutes and per 100 possessions numbers slid only slightly. This small regression means his production last season remained efficient despite playing nearly half as many minutes as the year before.
Randy Foye, Brooklyn Nets
Randy Foye is the oldest of the three guards mentioned here and is the least valuable of the three—in part because of his age. At 33, he’s past his prime, and that fact may contribute to why Brooklyn was able to pick him up for dirt cheap on a one-year, $2.5 million deal in an offseason during which Mike Conley signed a contract that will have him making more than ten times that much this season.
Foye has never been an excellent defender, but at this point in his career you’re looking for Dallas Mavericks era Vince Carter production—too slow to catch up with players on the perimeter, but still flashing an efficient offensive cache.
Over his career, Foye has been a good shooter, hitting at a nearly 37 percent clip from distance. He took a big, glaring step back last season that is frightening to say the least. He’ll have to correct that downtick on a truly terrible Brooklyn roster. This is a task that I am not envious of.
Foye can’t be traded until December 15 because no player signed this offseason is eligible to be traded until that date. On the Grizzlies’ side, Troy Daniels and James Ennis also can’t be dealt until that day. If Foye plays well in Brooklyn (he won’t; Brooklyn is an atrocity), the Nets will certainly try shopping him for picks or young talent since, you know...they don’t have any. The Nets may be willing to take a flyer on Ennis, Daniels, or Andrew Harrison if Memphis added a second rounder, but the Nets would have to provide more, likely Greivis Vasquez or Justin Hamilton.
Foye probably isn’t worth that much, but he has been known to be a Grizz killer in the past. Chances are this one doesn’t fly, but it’s worth keeping a tab on in case he has a resurgent year.
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
I’ve recently seen on the Twitters and in writing that McLemore may be on the trade block. The 23-year-old Kansas product was the seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft and came in with high expectations. However, as is like to happen in Sacramento, McLemore has been less than ideal, scoring ten points or more per game only once in three seasons.
But here’s the thing: he’s still young and raw, and he’s never been in an environment with stability. Not that Memphis is a terribly stable environment itself, but compared with Sacramento, it’s light years ahead.
Here’s another thing: McLemore is a decent shooter (notice a pattern here?). Over his career, he’s a 34.6 percent bomber on less than three attempts per game. 44 percent of all the shots in his career have come from distance, so it’s not like he doesn’t shoot threes. It’s more like he just doesn’t shot enough shots period. Of the 28 men who played for the Grizzlies last year, 12 of them, including Ray McCallum, P.J. Hairston, Lance Stephenson, Jordan Farmer, and Tony Allen, put up more attempts per game than McLemore did. Two seasons ago—far and away McLemore’s best offensive (and probably overall) year—he shot more than ten times a game.
The Grizzlies might be able to structure a deal like the Carter/Green for Morrow deal in respect to McLemore, but I suspect Sacramento will not be willing to part with such a young talent without a bit more compensation. Additionally, the Grizzlies could want to pair the younger McLemore with the experienced Carter in order to provide the Kansas kid with guidance. I could see a Green and pick(s) for McLemore framework being the starting point of negotiations, but considering McLemore is on a rookie deal in which he’ll become a restricted free agent at the end of NEXT season, it may take more for Memphis to get him. This is assuming that Sacramento wants to keep him, which, they might not because when has Sacramento ever made a logical move?
Of the three potential candidates I like McLemore, Morrow, then Foye in that order, though McLemore may be the most difficult piece to acquire. I’m very partial to a Morrow to Memphis move as well, and see Foye as a guy who could be on the team’s radar, but not as a serious trade candidate barring an impressive comeback campaign. If there’s anyone you think I missed, let me know and maybe I’ll write another trade landscape survey off suggestions!