The holidays have come and gone, and instead of checking the standings every morning to see where the Memphis Grizzlies are in the playoff picture Grizzlies fans now go to tankathon.com and see where Memphis is in pursuit of lottery ping bong balls. The Grizzlies are a game and a half back of the top spot in the NBA Lottery currently occupied by the Atlanta Hawks. Compare that with them being 7.5 games back of the New Orleans Pelicans for the 8th and final Western Conference Playoff spot, and the fact that the Grizzlies would need to go 29-15 the rest of the way just to get to .500, and the reality is quite clear-
It’s time to talk trades. And this time around, Memphis shouldn’t be buying- they’re the sellers.
There are expiring contracts and talented veterans on this roster that may hold value to teams across the NBA who are in a position to compete, whether that means win a playoff series or a championship. With that in mind, I reached out to the SB Nation NBA network of blogs asking for folks to give me their best offers for who they perceived to be the best value contract from Memphis. I also asked specific blogs who have been linked (speculatively) to the Grizzlies for trades who they viewed as our best asset and what Memphis should do heading in to next month’s trade deadline.
It’s a GBB Roundtable special! Here are the responses-
If you were in the Grizzlies shoes, what would you do with the roster heading in to the trade deadline?
Jake Whitacre (@JakeWhitacre), Site Manager of Bullets Forever (Washington Wizards)- The big thing I’d do is try to find whoever is willing to give up an asset for the team’s expiring deals. If you can get someone to take Tyreke Evans, James Ennis III, or Brandan Wright, just do it. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s a need to do anything hasty. You don’t want to trade away someone that your new coach might prefer to keep around unless you’re getting back a haul that’s too good to pass up.
Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA), Editor at CelticsBlog (Boston Celtics)- Hard as it might be, it is time to explore trades for Marc Gasol and, to a lesser degree, Mike Conley. Gasol still carries a ton of value around the NBA and could net a nice return to launch a rebuild for the Grizzlies. Memphis could get a package of talented young players, draft picks and expiring contracts to help them as they build their next iteration.
Conley might be harder to move, due to his injury history and larger contract, but if a trade appears, the Grizzlies should do it. Clearing that money off the books would be huge for Memphis and a point guard needy team might even pay the price of some draft picks and younger players.
Getting that money off the books this year doesn’t really matter, as this season is now sunk. But cleaning up the cap sheet going forward is massive. The NBA landscape has changed as far as the cap goes. Very few teams project to have cap space going forward for the next few years. If Memphis could position themselves as one of them, along with whatever they get for Gasol and Conley, they would be in prime position to rebuild quickly.
Who on the Memphis Grizzlies roster would you be most interested in your team trading for?
Whitacre- Marc Gasol would be great on the Wizards, because he’s an upgraded version of Marcin Gortat who would fit with the rest of the team seamlessly. However, I don’t think the Wizards realistically have the assets it would take to get him. Dillon Brooks would be awesome because he’d be a great upgrade on the bench over Jodie Meeks and give the team some much-needed youth to develop, but I suspect he’s off-limits.
So I guess the best realistic target for Washington would be Tyreke Evans. I worry his production would fall off a bit in Washington’s system, but he’s been shooting the ball well and he’d be an upgrade over Meeks defensively.
Smith- The player the Celtics would be most interested in is Marc Gasol, for obvious reasons. His passing and defense fit in perfectly in Boston and he fills a need at the center position. But....the Celtics would have to gut the roster to match salary to trade for Gasol. That makes him a fairly implausible target.
Because of that, the answer is Tyreke Evans. He would fit into the Disabled Player Exception that the Celtics got when Gordon Hayward was injured. And the cost to acquire Evans should be relatively reasonable, considering he’s a free agent at season’s end. Evans would give the Celtics some scoring and playmaking off the bench, which they all too often go wanting for.
Trade time- What would you be willing to give up to get who you view as the best/most realistic asset Memphis has?
This is where we got the most responses, so I will include them all here, along with a reaction from me, the hypothetical GM of the Memphis Grizzlies for this exercise.
Whitacre- The Wizards gave up a first round pick last season to acquire someone who left in free agency last summer, and I don’t think they want to repeat that mistake again. So the only offer I can really make is Jodie Meeks and the Wizards’ 2018 second round pick for Evans. If Evans was under contract for longer I’d be willing to offer more, but given the Wizards’ tax issues, it’s hard to envision him sticking around beyond this season.
Joe’s Response- LOL. Memphis shouldn’t touch a deal like this with a 10-foot pole. Evans is an expiring deal and Washington would not be able to retain him, but Tyreke is having the best season of his career. He can fetch more than a downgrade at the wing and a 2nd round pick.
Now replace Meeks with, say, Kelly Oubre Jr.? That should be something Memphis considers. A young, talented player would be a welcome asset in return for hitting a home run signing Tyreke to a cap-friendly deal.
Smith- It wouldn’t be all that much. Something along the lines of one of Boston’s own first round picks that is lottery protected for a year or two (just in case everything falls apart) and then turns into two second round picks if it doesn’t convey, would make a lot of sense. If the Grizzlies wanted a player like Abdel Nader, that shouldn’t be a huge stumbling block either.
Joe’s Response- Some Grizzlies fans aren’t going to want to hear this...but this is realistic. Evans won’t be able to fetch, say, the Nets 1st round pick from the Cavaliers. This isn’t NBA2k. First round picks are valuable commodities, as Memphis should know at this point, and the Celtics see the worth of that 2019 1st rounder the Grizzlies sent them in the Jeff Green trade years ago. Tyreke isn’t going to get Boston to part with that.
But teams like Boston (and Philadelphia and Denver) have so many future picks and/or young prospects that they could, in theory, part with one or two lower-level ones and not miss a beat. The Grizzlies could perhaps take advantage of the good fortune of others there, and these types of teams would want a player like Evans, who even as a likely 6-month rental would help them not just make the playoffs but perhaps win a playoff series or title...depending on the goal.
I would say yes to this deal if Boston included a 2nd round pick and/or Nader.
Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds), Manager of RaptorsHQ (Toronto Raptors)- Can’t do this trade until the off-season, but we’d like to offer you Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell for Marc Gasol. We think this--hey, wait, where are you going???
Joe’s Response- This isn’t really that awful of a trade, but it also isn’t that good. Valanciunas is a younger (cheaper) big who is under contract another two years, and Powell is also young and talented. I would say no, considering Powell is likely to be overpaid very soon and moving the best player in franchise history for Memphis should have a bit better return, even in his lesser state as he ages.
Maybe this is close to his current worth, but Marc is more meaningful to Memphis than a middle of the road big and wing.
Mike Cali, Editor of Orlando Pinstriped Post (Orlando Magic)- Don’t try to pawn Orlando-native Chandler Parsons and his $25 million salary off on us! The Magic have enough problems and misfits as it is. Orlando will likely be selling not buying at the deadline, so I’m not there is a deal to be made between the two tanking teams. But if we had to throw something out there, how about this:
Grizzlies get: Bismack Biyombo and Evan Fournier
Magic get: Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers
The Grizzlies unload Gasol and receive a shooter and a serviceable defensive-minded center. The Magic trade in two-plus more years of Biyombo for two-plus more expensive years of an aging Gasol, but are enticed by unloading Fournier and the three-plus years left on his deal and receiving two expiring contracts, giving them at least some cap flexibility.
Not interested? I didn’t think so. See you in the lottery!
Joe’s Response- Yeah, no thanks. Fournier is tempting, but not for that price.
John Henson, Jabari Parker, and Sterling Brown for Marc Gasol (and filler)
Milwaukee is absent an impact big man right now and while John Henson’s much-improved play this year is a welcome sign, I’m not sure it’s here to stay. Gasol is the kind of passing, roving big that Milwaukee needs even given his age. Jabari Parker’s dynamism as a scorer is beyond repute, but the knee injuries are worrying and his defense has been suspect. Still, he seems to contain the drive and raw skill to become an All-Star and was well on his way last year before crumpling to the court yet again.
Memphis gets a potential star, solid big, and cheap second rounder with potential to supplement their backcourt in return for an aging veteran who’s worthwhile but not to a rebuilding Memphis squad. It may look short-sighted for Milwaukee, and Memphis fans are assuredly wary to get another injury-riddled star after the Chandler Parsons experience, but I think it could make sense for both teams if the Grizzlies are ready to hit the eject button on their current core.
Joe’s Response- Again, Memphis fans aren’t going to like this...but this is a good deal. Henson isn’t a stud by any means, but he’s athletic and young and could be developed...even though that contract hurts a bit. Brown is a bit of a while card, and I would throw a couple 2nd rounders (including Memphis’ valuable 2nd rounder this year) at Milwaukee to see if I can upgrade Brown to Malcolm Brogdon.
The key piece of this deal is Parker. Yes, another injury concern. But when he’s healthy, he’s better than Chandler Parsons. He is a superstar. He can score in a variety of ways, and you get a player of that potential caliber without losing a future 1st. That is very intriguing. I’d consider this trade, and would definitely do it if Milwaukee was willing to part with Brogdon instead of Brown after Memphis included a could 2nd round picks.
Thanks to all who participated, especially Keith and Jake with their multiple responses. Which of the above deals is best? Comment to let us know.
Which hypothetical trade idea do you like best?
This poll is closed
Evans for Boston 1st
Evans for Washington 2nd and Meeks
Gasol/Evans/Chalmers for Fournier/Biyombo
Gasol for Parker/Henson/Brown
Gasol for Valanciunas/Powell