The Memphis Grizzlies have been busy this offseason.
Gone are Ben McLemore, Jarell Martiin, Deyonta Davis, Mario Chalmers, and Tyreke Evans. Jaren Jackson Jr., Jevon Carter, Omri Casspi, Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, and Dakari Johnson are now rocking the blue of the bears of Beale Street...at least for now. With one last move to make to get the roster down to the league mandated 15 guaranteed by the end of training camp (assuming the Grizzlies do indeed go through with the signing of Shelvin Mack eventually), another trade for Memphis would not be overly surprising.
Looking at the roster, it would appear there are no untouchables (except JJJ, but he cant be traded for a while any way after signing his rookie contract) but there are several unlikely movers. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol (sorry Darren) are probably sticking around, as is Dillon Brooks. Beyond that? Aside from the newbies mentioned above, everyone and anyone can be traded.
Yes, even Chandler Parsons (sorry Nathan...and me.)
So now that we know that the Grizzlies have a clear “type”, and now that it is clear that Memphis is willing to deal this summer, who else could be shipping out of the Bluff City? The following are strictly speculation - there are no inside sources on these possible moves, and it’s likely the trades do not happen. It’s almost August - let’s have some fun in the dog days.
All this fun is going to cost you, though.
Going, going, gone with Green
So how much do you like position-less basketball?
JaMychal Green is an expiring contract, which in and of itself is attractive to teams looking to clean up their books a little bit. Because of this, it’s very possibly that the Grizzlies wouldn’t entertain trading JaMychal. It isn’t like the Grizzlies are swimming in bigs anymore, now that Martin and Davis have left Memphis. It isn’t that the Grizzlies need another big man - they probably have the right amount as it is between Gasol, Green, Jackson, Ivan Rabb, and Johnson (assuming he sticks around...which he may well not).
Having said all that, Green’s deal (along with a 2nd round pick or a MarShon Brooks or Andrew Harrison, depending on the quality of player/contract) may entice others to part with an intriguing “position-less” piece. Al-Farouq Aminu of the Portland Trail Blazers would be the prized piece type of player for Memphis - versatile, a shooter and defender that would fit the current Grizzlies mold. Yet he also is an expiring deal, and thus may be out of the price range of Memphis considering Aminu is probably better than JaM.
Other possibilities? Jae Crowder of the Jazz for JaM would likely work straight up, and Utah may like that move since Crowder is under contract until 2020, but Crowder has moved around teams for a reason and is much more of a perimeter player than a “stretch four”. Kyle Korver, while he would be a bit of a removal from the “defensive emphasis” at this stage of his career, is still a lights out perimeter shooter and can defend well if given assistance within scheme and rim protection behind him...which he would have in Memphis. The one flaw to the Korver plan is his contract isn’t fully guaranteed for the 2019-2020 season - he could be waived and only have to be paid $3.44 million if he’s cut before July 7th, 2019 according to spotrac.com.
Korver could play either wing postion. Crowder is more of a “3” but has played the “4”, and Aminu is more of a “4” who can play well outside the paint defensively. Crowder and Korver are owed another season after this one, so those two would be more likely in this scenario in terms of teams wanting to get off of money. But you’d better believe in Ivan Rabb, want to keep Dakari Johnson, or think that between Kyle Anderson, Omri Casspi, and Chandler Parsons you have enough to play that “stretch four” that Rabb and JJJ could back up Gasol at the 5.
Speaking of Parsons...
No contract is untradable.
Chandler’s is close...but Timofey Mozgov was traded twice this off-season, so anything is possible.
Parsons is in a similar boat to JaMychal in that there isn’t a ton of upgrading to be done from contract to contract without Memphis needing to sweeten the pot to a level they shouldn’t feel comfortable doing at this stage (DO NOT TRADE ANYMORE FIRST ROUND PICKS PLEASE AND THANK YOU). Dallas isn’t likely to move Harrison Barnes for Chandler straight up at this stage, for example, no matter how much the Mavericks loved hanging out with Parsons back in the day.
But if Memphis is willing to take on additional years of money? Then there may be possibilities...for example, Nicolas Batum has a player option in 2020-2021 that one has to imagine he probably will opt in to, while Parsons will be an unrestricted free agent that summer. Would the Hornets, with a new General Manager, be interested in clearing their financials as soon as possible? If so, would they be willing to part with Batum, or even Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tyler Zeller for Parsons and MarShon Brooks or Andrew Harrison, to save some cash down the road?
They’d probably consider it.
Meanwhile, Memphis would be acquiring more high basketball IQ players (Batum) with solid defensive acumen (MKG) and/or versatility (Zeller). If you’re trying to maximize the Gasol and Mike Conley “return to Grit and Grind”, those names would help that process more than Chandler would at this stage.
Again, some 2nd round pick sweeteners would probably be needed, and it’s likely that the Hornets still balk at that offer. Money can indeed drive decision making, however, and for organizations like the Hornets an attempt to free up cash could lead to a team like Memphis upgrading while trying to improve in the here and now...as long as they’re willing to pay for it.
Chandler and a 2nd rounder for Batum?
Parsons, MarShon and a 2nd rounder for MKG and Zeller?
JaMychal and a 2nd rounder for Kyle Korver?
Something else in between or entirely different?
Possibilities exist, be it these hypotheticals or other potential dealings, to help Memphis continue to improve their stock as they try to thrive as best they can the next season or two. The key is to not completely negate the future while trying to make the present as competitive as possible for the Grizzlies, and any trade, speculative or real, must walk that line.
The most likely scenario is that Memphis simply waives someone to get the roster where it needs to be when (if?) Shelvin Mack joins the squad. Perhaps the Grizzlies could even entertain the idea of a smaller trade - it isn’t like MarShon Brooks is “Grit and Grind”, and Wayne Selden Jr. or Andrew Harrison may fetch a future 2nd round pick themselves. Besides, any trade not involving Marc or Mike isn’t disrupting the flow of the Grizzlies too much.
But if cash isn’t an issue, and it doesn’t appear to be up to the luxury tax in Memphis, then an extra year here or there may be worth pushing the Gasol/Conley era a little further up the Western Conference power rankings...as long as they fit what it now means to be a Grizzly.