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Thoughts: Grizzlies Trade Deadline Edition

Scattered Thoughts -- An Old Couch -- A Dirge -- We do not stay traded long -- A visit to Doc -- Clips are Screwed -- Live look at spreadsheets -- Post Free Agent Market - Humvee-ing -- Synopsis

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Scattered thoughts here. Get your scattered thoughts here!

1). When I was in my early twenties, I was living with a few friends. We rented a house in midtown. Things went south with our landlords, and we found ourselves out on the street pretty quick. Thankfully, my girlfriend and two of her friends let me crash with them for a while. I was working two jobs, and suddenly was sharing a place a one bathroom place with three girls. They let me move in my stuff too. My "stuff" was exactly the mismatched, random, and soon-to-be-replaced collection that every guy in his early twenties has after college. In short, the combination of me and my stuff was most definitely an assault on the senses of these girls, and even though I ended up marrying one of them, I didn't realize at the time just how lucky me and my stuff was to find a home.

2). Other stuff wasn't so lucky. We had this old leather couch, and with both a move out deadline and no other alternatives, we just put it out on the street. It was gone within 30 minutes. Never saw who picked it up. Midtown absorbed it. You could tell me elves scooped it up. You could tell me some less-fortunates dragged it under a bridge and were living on it. I like to think it was found by college kids, returned to its rightful home on the 3rd floor of Robb Hall, and was living the college life a second time. RIP couch.

3). The point is somebody took something we left on the side of the road, something that had so little value to us that we actually preferred the utility of empty space to that couch.

4). On a day when the Rockets couldn't give away Ty Lawson, or Dwight Howard; on a day when most moves were made for luxury tax reasons (hello, Birdman); on a day when most teams were basically saying, "here, take my garbage. I will pay you," the Memphis Grizzlies traded decent players to reclaim a piece of their future.

5). The Grizzlies were not re-signing either Courtney Lee or Jeff Green, and I think it would have been a mistake to re-sign either.

6). While I am sad to see Courtney Lee go, and I experienced emotions seeing Jeff Green go, I do not think these moves change the competitive outlook of this season appreciably.

7). I still consider the Grizzlies favorites to make the playoffs, and lose in the first round.

8). Memphis didn't punt on the season. They still retain three of their best four options at shooting guard and small forward (I include Mario Chalmers), and their best small forward/power forward option (Matt Barnes).

9). That the Grizzlies are now a singularity of NBA crazy is simply what happens when you are paid to take other teams' problems. Lance, Birdman, and PJ Hairston are varying degrees of that: another team's problem. Thankfully, most of that crazy will be gone by the end of June.


10). I take a deep breath. Courtney Lee, here is your dirge.

11). Time cannot permeate your sabbatical. We do not stay traded long. Once our Front office let you go, your contract, next time around, will be upon you in a heartbeat. Next season we'll meet again at Bluff City, you'll be back in a different jersey, passing up the same corner three, playing the same stellar defense, doing all the same little things, your resolution perfect in your role as a low usage role player.

Cloud Atlas

12). Such elegant certainties comfort me.

13). Okay, I feel better. Kinda.

14). I never trusted a role player more than I trusted Courtney. Always knew what I was getting.

What We Got For CLEE

15). There is a clear value difference between 2nd round picks in the top 5-10 picks of the 2nd round, and those later.  Three of the four 2nd round picks Memphis acquired are decent bets to fall in the top 10 of the 2nd round. Two of them are owned by Brooklyn and Charlotte, and the third has a strange protection that gives Memphis shots in both 2017 and 2018 to nab a high 2nd round pick. Essentially, these three picks represent four chances at picks in the 31-40 range.

16). So, while one of the four picks is likely to never convey, the other three 2nd round picks are more valuable than your average 2nd round pick. Something to consider.

Switching Gears

17). When I "Tore down the Grizzlies" a few months ago, I paid a visit to Doc first:

Trade 1: Grizzlies trade Brandan Wright and Tony Allen to the Clippers for Lance StephensonCole 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 2ndround 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....

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).

18). Everything here still informs why this deal got done. Doc will not be coaching/GM'ing this team when CP3 is old, and he may have already traded Blake and/or Deandre by then.

19). LOL at the last line.

20). Unfortunately, Jeff Green's time in Memphis draws to a close just as he was hitting his stride. Who knows what heights he could have hit with a string of Allstar Break practices under his belt to fully incorporate into the team?

21). The Stephenson contract was LAC's only way to improve this year or next. They project to only have about $12mm in cap space if they renounce both Jeff Green and Jamal Crawford, but they will only have six players under contract at that point.

22). As we talked about here and here $12mm gets you one starter this offseason.

23). You can't replace the production of Green and Crawford for $12mm, so LAC has backed itself into a corner where they have to re-sign both guys to field anything close to a competitive team.

24). The Green/Crawford contracts will be very fascinating, and low-key crippling for the Clippers. They have to re-sign both guys to stay competitive, and there will be no shortage of bidders. I think both guys will get north of $10mm/year, and I'd be surprised if Green's was less than $14mm. If the Clippers commit that type of money for 3-4 years, that's it.

25). Add in a re-signed Austin Rivers, an MLE signing, and suddenly you have something like $100mm committed to ten guys, five of whom (six if you include the MLE signing) are on the wrong side of thirty.

26). Committing that type of money while not being able to trade a pick until the year 2021 (at the earliest), means that the Clippers are locked into a declining version of the team they have now. They will have to strongly consider trading Deandre or Blake just to change up the team, and  it's a difficult proposition to trade one of those guys and improve.

27). Particularly when Doc Rivers is your GM.

28). With that said, Doc showed incredible restraint in attaching strict pick protections to the pick they now owe to Memphis. A restraint, I would like to add, the Memphis Front Office did not show when they traded for Jeff Green.

29). The parallels prove that the NBA is a flat circle.

30). Once upon a time, Memphis traded a 1st round pick to dump $6.5mm of salary, creating flexibility to facilitate another move. Two years later, Doc Rivers trades a 1st round pick to do the same thing. Then, within 13 months both teams trade a future 1st round pick for the chalice of true title contention known as Jeff Green. Teams negotiate in the present context, not in a vacuum. Boston had little pressure to do a deal (in fact, had been waiting 18 months for someone to meet their price) and negotiated from a position strength with Memphis.

31). What Boston got was a pick with light protections, one with a decent shot to be a lottery pick and an outside shot at being a high lottery pick.

32). The pick Memphis got is not that, but nonetheless fantastic return for a player whose long run production tops out as "just a guy," not to mention a guy who is about to be wildly overpaid just as he is regressing.

33). Long story short, Memphis fans should root for the Clippers to make the playoffs in 2017 (so the pick Doc previously traded away conveys to Toronto, and the clock starts as early as possible on the Memphis pick). Then, if the Clips make the playoffs in 2019-2020, Memphis gets the pick. If not, it turns into one 2nd round pick.

34). Where we stand today, and for all of the above reasons, I'm mildly optimistic that that pick is a 1st round pick. Let's call it 60%-66%. Even factoring in market advantages, and the presence of elite talent now, 2019 is a long ways away, and few teams make the playoffs eight years running. I think the Clippers are more likely than not to be one of those teams, but I think it is far from a certainty.

Trade Ammo

35). The true utility of this pick, and the other picks, is that they re-stock the Grizzlies trade ammo.

36). Looking ahead to the summer, the Grizzlies will have about $25mm, but will need to add multiple rotation guys to field a competitive team. That is a dicey proposition, though not impossible, in a market where every team will have cap space.

37). But what this pick does is it gets Memphis into the secondary "post-Free Agent" trade market for players already under contract. Rotation players like PJ Tucker, Thad Young, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari will become hot commodities to teams that miss completely in free agency and simply don't have a competent NBA player to soak up minutes.

38). These draft assets are a vital second chance for Memphis to add talent this summer if they strike out in Free agency. I think it is far more likely than not that Memphis trades this pick to add talent, rather than wait until 2019 to possibly reap the rewards.


39). Despite the seemingly Calvinist certainty that the ceiling to this team is fated as a first round playoff exit, the rest of the season is likely to play out in only good ways for the long run of this franchise. The only bad outcome being something that jeopardizes Conley re-signing, which I consider a long shot.

40). The Grizzlies, slotted to have the 22nd pick right now, and I am not convinced that they will slide in the standings following these trades. If the Grizzlies make the playoffs - and I am a firm believer that they are still favorites to do so - then that pick won't get worse than that. Instead of "Tanking," then this diet version of acquiring future assets without sacrificing appreciable present value is "Jeeping." "Humvee-ing?"

41). If Memphis does fall out of the playoffs, that isn't a terrible outcome either.  They give up a late lottery pick to the Denver Nuggets, which in turn accelerates the future pick owed to Boston and hopefully lessens the risk attached to trading a pick in the distant future. And while Memphis will lose a super-cheap rookie scale contract, they would gain about $1mm in summer cap space.

42). Somebody should buy the Grizzlies Front Office a cup of coffee.