Christmas is the unofficial signal that the NBA season is really starting to kick into high gear. Football season is winding down, and it serves to remind folks that, yes, basketball is still a sport, and yes, the best athletes in the world still play it. The Christmas Day slate of games sometimes represents the energy and enthusiasm of NBA die-hards (as it did this year with Cavaliers-Warriors) and starts to transfer to the casual fan.
For fans of the Memphis Grizzlies and other NBA teams, it’s also the time to really evaluate just how good your roster is, and potentially just how good they can be. The cream has begun to rise to the top in both the Western and Eastern Conferences. The contenders (Cleveland, Toronto, Golden State, San Antonio) are taking shape, and the second tier below them (Boston, Houston, L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Utah all have 14 or less losses as of this posting) have to judge whether any move, big or small, is going to get them into that true contender tier.
In Memphis, the Grizzlies are surely hoping that health will find them in the new year and improved performances from Chandler Parsons are on the horizon. That may be enough to get them into a dark horse contender spot, depending on seeding out west. But is that enough? Or do the Grizzlies need to make a trade to shore up their back-up point guard spot? Or to upgrade their starting shooting guard?
This is why Chris Wallace, John Hollinger, and the other members of the Grizzlies front office make the big bucks. But who exactly would be considered of value to another team? And who, if anyone, should Memphis be shopping?
In that spirit, let’s rank the Grizzlies as trade-able assets. Now there are some ground rules to lay out here:
- THIS DOES NOT MEAN THESE PLAYERS SHOULD BE MOVED. It’s simply an exercise in determining what value they may have to other teams, and whether that value is worth potentially shipping them out.
- THIS DOES NOT MEAN THESE PLAYERS WILL BE MOVED. The most likely scenario is that Memphis makes no moves at all because it’s the easiest thing to do...but the Grizzlies have made some sort of trade the past few seasons, so saying a trade may happen isn’t crazy.
- THIS IS ALL ABOUT VALUE. Value that Memphis would get back in exchange in a deal compared to their worth to Memphis this season and beyond.
In that spirit, let’s get underway with number 15, who probably doesn’t surprise anyone-
15. Chandler Parsons
Now keep in mind, this is as of this moment. Parsons could return and set the world on fire, as he did for a stretch in Dallas last season, and change what this value actually is. But the four-year nature of the contract, on top of the current health issues he’s dealing with, make it seem as if it would not be of any interest to any team at the moment...at least not to the level of value that Memphis sees in him.
On a side note, crushing the Parsons deal 34 games into a four-year contract is just absurd. This Grizzlies offense has yet to see what Parsons really brings to the table. It wouldn’t make sense to trade him at this point anyway, and Memphis would get nowhere near his actual value. So, #15.
Trade Likelihood - No way. 0%
14. Brandan Wright
See Parsons, Chandler. He is more movable because of his current contract being very cap friendly, but he’s only played in 52 games the past two seasons, not including this one. Chandler Parsons has played in 167. Teams would again have to see him physically in action to give anything of value for Wright at this stage. Hopefully in January he will be given that opportunity.
Trade likelihood - It’s possible, if the right team wants to take a flyer for cheap. But Memphis may want to hold on just to see if there’s anything left this season and move him before the Draft. 50% overall, 20% this season.
13. Troy Williams
Williams has shown flashes of real potential in his brief time in Memphis, and played so well through the preseason that he forced the Grizzlies Front Office to waive the guaranteed contract of Jordan Adams. But the Williams contract ($543,471 this season with a team option for next season at $905,249) makes him valuable to Memphis and not too likely to bring back anything near that value in a trade, unless he’s added on to be part of another deal.
That isn’t to say Williams is untouchable. But moving Troy seems unlikely, considering how much Memphis has done just to keep him around in the here and now. His recent Iowa Energy assignment aside, Williams probably will be a Grizzly in 2017-2018.
Trade likelihood - Unlikely, but not impossible. 10%.
12. Andrew Harrison
Andrew Harrison won the backup point guard battle with Wade Baldwin IV. He’s among the NBA rookie leaders in minutes played, assists, and steals. He has shown improvement in his game as both a defender and facilitator through the past 30-some games.
So why is he so low on this list? He’s only under team control for the next two seasons beyond this one, whereas Wade Baldwin IV through team options and a qualifying offer theoretically is controlled through the next four. Baldwin IV is also two years younger than Harrison, and as the 17th overall pick of Memphis in the 2016 NBA Draft, surely control of such an asset would be valuable to not just the Grizzlies, but other teams.
Harrison seems to be better now. But the ceiling for Baldwin is likely higher than Harrison’s, so Andrew doesn’t figure to be as valuable in a deal.
Trade likelihood - 10%. He is firmly entrenched as Memphis’ back-up point guard for now, but he could be tacked on a deal to upgrade that position in the here and now.
11. Troy Daniels
Yes, Troy Daniels. The savior of the sputtering Memphis offense for stretches to this point in the season. Surely he would be more valuable than this, right?
Troy Daniels is what Memphis hoped he would be. One hell of a shooter. But that doesn’t mean his limits don’t still exist. He’s shown improvement as a creator off the dribble, but he can still be contained. His defense has shown growth, but he’s still one of the worst defenders on the team. He has a 108 defensive rating, worst on the Grizzlies, and at 6’4” his size limits him in terms of positional versatility.
He has value in a trade, of course. And he is becoming what the Grizzlies needed him to be. But an improved one-trick pony is still a one-trick pony, and that skill has value, but there are limits to that value.
Trade likelihood - 5%. It could happen, but a team that has starved for shooting for so long probably won’t want to part with a guy who can shoot like him.
10. Wade Baldwin IV
Wade is a talented young player, and as mentioned above his contract is very team friendly for a variety of reasons. But there are questions with Wade with regard to what he can be for Memphis moving forward. Is he a point guard? It may be too early to tell, but he looks more comfortable off the ball at the moment. His game is raw; he struggles with his jumper, has shot 11.8% from three in 20 games as a Grizzly so far, and he appears lost more often than engaged on an NBA court.
But, he is 20 years old. And he has physical tools that cannot be taught. That holds value, but probably not the kind that contenders are willing to part with at this stage.
Trade Likelihood - 3%. Would take one whale of a deal.
9. Jarell Martin
Talk about a young man whose value has risen the past thirty-plus games. Martin has taken advantage of the opportunities he’s been presented with and has shown some real brilliance at times for Memphis. His level of athleticism is a pleasant surprise, the fact that he can play on the wing in a pinch is borderline shocking, and at 22 years old he still has room to grow. Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to the modern NBA, and Martin has shown he can be that versatile rotation player and do it well.
The future of the Power Forward position in Memphis is up in the air (more on that in Part II). Could Jarell Martin be the starter in the 2017-2018 season? That isn’t as crazy to say now as it may have been in September. That is a testament to the developmental skills of head coach David Fizdale and his staff, as well as the work that Martin has put in to get better.
Trade likelihood - 10%. If JaMychal Green is determined to be worthy of investment, and Brandan Wright and Deyonta Davis are also part of long-term plans, Martin could pair nicely with a veteran contract in a deal. But the three years of team control on the “cheap” (qualifying offer may not be as cheap for Memphis in two seasons if he thrives) makes that unlikely.
8. Vince Carter
Vince Carter is playing the best basketball h’s ever played as a Memphis Grizzly. He has defensively shut down Andrew Wiggins and is not a liability on that end, and his lack of concern about potentially being a cold shooter allows for him to let it fly from range. He trails only Troy Daniels in three-point attempts per-36 minutes, and teams have to account for Vince as a shooter.
But Vince is 40 years old, and is on the last year of his contract in Memphis. Chances are he’s not likely to be a Grizzly beyond this summer, unless he signs for very cheap. As the Grizzlies get healthy on the wing, and as Troy Daniels shows he is capable of consistent minutes, Carter becomes more and more movable.
Teams that could use a shooter with the experience of a Vince Carter? Boston, Oklahoma City, and Sacramento come to mind. But what will they be willing to part with to get his services? Surely Memphis will want a younger perimeter player, with a pick depending on what else would be leaving Memphis.
Trade likelihood - 35%. You can’t ignore the fact that Vince has played less minutes as the team has gotten healthier. Carter and any contract will bring back something of value. If the Grizzlies make a trade, it could very well involve Carter.
Part II will be out later today!