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The 2016 Trade Deadline: One Year Later

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Reviewing the 2015-16 Grizzlies’ trade deadline moves a year after the fact.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Everything is better in hindsight. It’s easy to grade trades immediately after they happen, but do you know what’s easier? Grading trades a year after they happen when you know how they work out!

The Memphis Grizzlies made two trades on the week of the trade deadline for the 2015-16 season. The Grizzlies sent away Courtney Lee two days before the deadline and Jeff Green right at the buzzer.

With the power of hindsight, let’s look back at how those trades looked at the time, and how they look now after a year.

Trade #1

Team Memphis Miami Charlotte
Team Memphis Miami Charlotte
Sent Courtney Lee Chris Andersen, 2017 2nd Round pick, 2019 2nd Round Pick Brian Roberts, P.J. Hairston, 2018 2nd Round Pick, 2019 2nd Round Pick (via BKN)
Received Chris Andersen, P.J. Hairston, 2017 2nd Round Pick (MIA), 2018 2nd Round Pick (CHA), 2019 2nd Round Pick (CHA via BKN) 2019 2nd Round Pick (MIA) Brian Roberts Courtney Lee

At the time:

This was a salary dump for the Grizzlies. Courtney Lee was on an expiring contract and Memphis was hesitant to pay up as he entered his age 31 season.

Courtney Lee was a good player for the Grizzlies though. He was one of the team’s few consistent 3-point shooters as well as a solid defender, so losing him for such a small package had to have hurt.

The Hornets needed some wing help with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sidelined for the season and Courtney Lee provided viable help. Losing P.J. Hairston and a couple 2nd-round picks were a small price to pay for a playoff rental.

Chris Andersen and P.J. Hairston were marginal additions to the trade, but they could have been useful to the Grizzlies. Andersen was meant to be an interior defender and veteran presence with Hairston providing 3-point shooting. None were going to replace the production of Courtney Lee, so hopefully for the Grizzlies’ sake the 2nd-round picks are used wisely.

Now:

This season, Andersen and Hairston are no longer on the Grizzlies, Courtney Lee is no longer on the Hornets, and Brian Roberts somehow ended up back on the Hornets.

Hairston and Andersen played a significant amount minutes for the Grizzlies last season, but there’s also a chance you, the reader, also played minutes with as many injuries Memphis had last year. P.J. Hairston was supposed to bolster the team’s always-lacking 3-point shooting, but he shot 23% on 3-pointers the rest of the year.

Courtney Lee ended up playing well with Charlotte into the playoffs and after the season he received a 4 year, $48 Million contract with the New York Knicks, where he continues to be the consistent 3-point threat and a solid defender that he was in Memphis.

Meanwhile, Chandler Parsons received a contract worth nearly double that amount in the off-season with the money that the Grizzlies didn’t want to give Courtney Lee.

Trade #2

Team Memphis LA Clippers
Team Memphis LA Clippers
Sent Jeff Green Lance Stephenson, 2019 1st Round Pick (Lottery protected)

At the time:

This was a team with Matt Barnes, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and recently, P.J. Hairston and Chris Andersen. So the Grizzlies got to add Lance Stephenson to that group and get a first-rounder? The NBA is the best.

Doc Rivers, who coached Green in Boston, became the third executive to trade a first-round pick for Jeff Green. Green was supposed to fix the Clippers’ wing deficiencies so that they could finally reach the Western Conference Finals.

The Lance Stephenson experiment failed in L.A., so they pulled the trigger and swapped him for Green to go all-in. The Grizzlies should have been happy in just a player-for-player swap, but getting a first-round pick was icing on the cake.

Now:

It turned out to be a pretty solid trade for the Grizzlies. Lance Stephenson played pretty well for a decimated Grizzlies squad. In the 26 games he played for Memphis, he averaged 14.2 PPG on 47% shooting. The Grizzlies didn’t re-sign him over the off-season, but he performed well enough for what they traded for him.

That first-round pick was then traded on draft night last year for the rights to Deyonta Davis, who has shown some promise as a rookie rim protector.

Meanwhile, Jeff Green did not take the Clippers over the hump. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s injuries in the playoffs ruined those chances. This year is having one of the worst years of his career in Orlando, waiting to be traded for yet another first-round pick.

The compensation for Green was too much then and it’s too much now.

Jeff Green was on an expiring contract. He was not going to be a key piece for the Grizzlies in the playoff push that season or in the next season as we can see now. So for Memphis to trade him for a marginally better player and a young prospect was a savvy move.

2016 Trade Deadline Review

Overall, this was a lackluster, but effective deadline for the Grizzlies. Losing Courtney Lee for essentially a handful of 2nd-round picks might have been financially necessary, but it stings for basketball reasons.

Courtney Lee is exactly the type of player that would thrive on this current roster, especially with Tony Allen aging. Smart players that can shoot and defend well are always a prime asset, particularly with the lack of similar players on the roster currently.

Memphis did not have the cap room to re-sign Lee at his price and sign a max player (Parsons) and if Memphis knew they didn’t want to re-sign Lee, then turning him into 2nd-round picks is discouraging yet understandable.

Trading Jeff Green however, is the saving grace of the trade deadline. Jeff Green is the Sam Bradford of the NBA, constantly being overvalued by GM’s who think he is the missing puzzle piece for a championship contender. Jeff Green will eventually be traded for all 14 lottery picks in a given draft and promptly average 11 points a game the next season.

The Grizzlies have felt this punishment by being one of the teams to trade 1st-round or him, but fixed that by getting another 1st-round pick for him on this deadline, which is a success.

The Jeff Green trade also provided the Grizzlies with Lance Stephenson, who provided us with this:

That Vine is almost good enough to compensate for the Courtney Lee trade. Almost.

It still hurts to not have Courtney Lee on this current version of the Grizzlies, but we’re not sure if that would have even been financially possible. The deadline deals eventually landed us 4 2nd-round picks and Deyonta Davis. That is a solid haul on volume alone for two players that were not going to be on the team in the long-term anyway.

This deadline was a success. There were no blockbuster deals last year, so all moves, including the Grizzlies, were unspectacular. However, the Grizzlies used those deals to help bolster their future, which is always a welcome benefit from the trade deadline.

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