It’s been well documented that this Grizzlies season has not gone according to plan. Mike Conley has been out basically all year, while just about everyone else on the team not named Tyreke Evans has struggled. In the last few weeks, Grizz fans have been discussing a “mini-tank” to try and get a top draft pick in this year’s draft, aiming to regroup for next year. Ideally, the Grizzlies would like a top-5 pick to draft Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic, DeAndre Ayton, Michael Porter Jr., or Trae Young.
To give themselves the best chance at any of these players, the Grizzlies would need to continue losing, and would benefit from making a few trades to free up cap space and try and get future draft picks as well. The front office will very likely stand pat until they see what the team looks like with Conley healthy, but here’s a look at players who should be on the move if the Grizzlies embrace the tank.
Good as Gone
Tyreke Evans: Reke has been the best part of this Grizzlies season by far. He leads the team in points per game with 19.4 and has easily been their best and most consistent player. He’s played so well that there’s absolutely no way the Grizzlies can afford to pay him this summer. Evans banked on himself this year with a “prove it” contract and is going to get paid handsomely in the offseason.
The Grizzlies could benefit from moving Evans so that they lose more games, as well as get something in return instead of watching him sign a fat check elsewhere. If you could package Evans and maybe a couple of 2nd rounders for a first round pick and/or a solid young player, the Grizz have to do it.
Brandan Wright & James Ennis III: Both Wright and Ennis are players on expiring contracts and in positions for which the Grizzlies have younger guys behind them on the depth chart. Deyonta Davis played well when Wright was injured earlier this season, while Ennis is having another season when his spot in the rotation changes nightly.
Contending teams love expiring contracts and should be interested in either Wright or Ennis if they need a solid player off the bench. The Grizzlies likely can’t get much for either player, but if they can turn them into a couple of second round picks it would at least give the Grizzlies more tradeable assets moving forward.
Andrew Harrison or Mario Chalmers: The last week has featured a lot of Kobi Simmons, and the undrafted rookie out of Arizona has impressed both fans and the coaching staff. In a tanking situation, the Grizzlies would be inclined to sign Kobi to an NBA deal and axe his two-way contract. Doing so would mean the Grizzlies would have to get rid of either Harrison or Chalmers.
It’s doubtful the Grizzlies could get anybody to trade for Harrison or Chalmers, so the only way either of them is traded is if they are packaged with another player. I definitely expect one of these two (my bet is on Chalmers) to be waived later this season to make room for Kobi on the big-league roster.
Gone at the Right Price
JaMychal Green: JaMychal Green signed a 2-year deal with the Grizzlies this past summer, but it was a weird restricted free-agency that dragged on into training camp. Green has turned himself into a solid player with the Grizzlies, and a contending team would likely be very interested in his value, especially on the defensive end. Yes, I know JaM hasn’t been as effective this year defensively, but I think missing most of camp and then starting the season injured has been the cause of that, rather than regression on that end.
JaMychal is too good of a player, on a decent enough contract, for the Grizzlies to trade him just to trade him, however. It will take a good offer from an opposing team to poach JaMychal from Memphis, but if the right offer comes the Grizzlies should jump on it.
Deyonta Davis: Deyonta has played well these last few weeks and has shown enough consistency to earn a spot in the Grizzlies rotation. The Grizzlies seem fond of Davis, and Marc Gasol has even stated that he sees Davis as the Center of the future for the team. It’s unlikely the Grizzlies trade Davis but if come February the Grizzlies are still near the top of the draft, they could easily consider moving Davis if they have their eyes set on DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley.
If the Grizzlies do get sold on either Ayton or Bagley, it makes moving Green and Davis reasonable. If they prefer to go after Doncic, Young, or Porter, both players will likely remain Grizzlies.
Not Going Anywhere
Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons & Wayne Selden: At this point in the season, nobody is going to make a move for either Conley or Parsons, and I don’t think the Grizzlies would consider trading Conley no matter the offer. Even if they considered the full blown rebuild, Conley makes more sense as an offseason trade instead of a mid-season trade since he’s been hurt all year.
Meanwhile, nobody is trading for Parsons because of his contract. The Grizzlies would also likely view a healthy Parsons as a key cog in a rebound year next year. Selden has been hurt all year as well, so nobody is making moves for him.
Ivan Rabb & Dillon Brooks: Rabb, Brooks, and the previously mentioned Kobi Simmons represent the closest thing to “exciting” prospects the Grizzlies have. Rabb has dominated the G-League and his fundamentals have people comparing him to Tim Duncan in terms of the style of his game. Rabb is a solid player and just needs to put on some muscle to fit better in today’s NBA.
Brooks has been a surprise contributor for the Grizzlies this season. He’s a decent defender and a good enough shooter to become a solid 3 and D player in the NBA. Both Rabb and Brooks figure to be a part of any Grizzlies tank and rebuild.
Ben McLemore & Jarell Martin: I don’t think McLemore has been nearly as bad as most fans have talked about, but he’s definitely not worth $5 million a year. The Grizzlies will not get a good offer on McLemore. The only way he gets moved is if the Grizzlies decide to admit it wasn’t a good signing and just swap salaries and try and trade him for an expensive, expiring contract. McLemore makes more sense as a trade candidate if he’s still bad next season.
Jarell Martin is a fringe NBA player. Despite his great game against the Lakers the other night, no team is going to come after him. The Grizzlies reportedly tried, and failed, to trade Martin during camp, and nearly cut him before he played two weeks of the best basketball of his life. He’s not going anywhere simply because he’s not that good.
Gasol is the biggest wild card in a potential Grizzlies tank. Ideally, the Grizzlies keep Marc, get a healthy Conley back next year, and pair the duo with any of the previously mentioned top draft picks (although Ayton wouldn’t make much sense with Gasol in the fold). Marc has already said he would not tank so he could very well demand a trade. The front office could also decide to move on from Marc as well, although that’s not as realistic as the return for Marc likely wouldn’t be great.
His struggles this season have been well documented and he’s struggled to adapt to the major changes to the Grizzlies roster. Looking at what Paul George and Jimmy Butler got traded for, who are better players than Gasol at this point. It is hard to see a trade that the Grizzlies get anything close to good value on him. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gasol demands a trade if the Grizzlies openly tank or if they just suck even after Conley returns.
A lot of the previously mentioned potential trades depend on what happens with Gasol, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out.
The Grizzlies, even if they turn this season around, have some big decisions to make this season going into next summer. Depending on who they move, and what they get in return, will likely shape this franchise for the next 5 years.
Nervous? You should be.