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Week-side Help: Week 15 - Trading Block

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Mike Conley and Marc Gasol’s days in Memphis are numbered, while a 10-day player surprises and Memphis gets their second win in a month

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 Results

New Orleans Pelicans 105 @ Memphis Grizzlies 85 (19-28) Recap | Box Score

Charlotte Hornets 118 @ Memphis Grizzlies 107 (19-29) Recap | Box Score

Sacramento Kings 99 @ Memphis Grizzlies 96 (19-30) Recap | Box Score

Indiana Pacers 103 @ Memphis Grizzlies 106 (20-30) Recap | Box Score

Week 15 Storylines

-Memphis has put G Mike Conley and C Marc Gasol on the trading block after conversations with team owner Robert Pera. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the story.

-Memphis signed F Bruno Caboclo to a 10-day contract. He played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G-League this season.

-G/F Garrett Temple sprained his left shoulder against the Sacramento Kings. The Grizzlies announced Temple will miss 1-2 weeks but is expected to make a full recovery and return.

-Required Reading: In light of the big news, GBB site manager Joe Mullinax gives a touching tribute towards the legacy of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and what the end of an era means in Memphis. | In order to get to the bottom of Memphis’ struggles after halftime, GBB’s Justin Lewis does some dogged reporting and revealed J.B. Bickerstaff’s halftime strategy and adjustments (Satire).

Week 15 Thoughts

-The trade talks about Mike Conley and Marc Gasol hurt. They hurt a whole lot. But it is a necessary evil. Mike and Marc were assuredly not the reason this season fell apart as it did. But the franchise is moving in one direction--down--while two All-Star caliber players are being wasted in a bad situation. Trading those two will not be an indictment on those players, it will be an indictment of a front office and an organization that failed them.

-Even if it took the organization longer to realize what every observer thought was obvious, I’m glad they came to the point where they understand a trade needs to be made to boost the team’s future prospects. Memphis needs to keep that in consideration when considering trade packages for the two. Instead of trading them for win-now pieces and veterans, draft picks and prospects are what’s needed. And if in the process, Memphis gets Marc and Mike to winning situations? Even better. Those two deserve the best.

-Marc Gasol on the Raptors, being an upgraded Jonas Valanciunas, helping lead their Finals push? Would be so fun to watch. Mike Conley on the Lakers, making the playoffs and getting the shine he’s always deserved, just by playing in a big market with LeBron? Would be incredibly satisfying. The assets we get in return, from those two teams or any of the other 29, aren’t likely to be blue-chip prospects and picks. It’s going to be a lot of flyers and “eh, why not?” prospects. I know it won’t be a priority of the front office (nor should it be), but doing right by those two and trading them to good situations would warm my heart. Please don’t send either Mike or Marc to Orlando.

-A lot of ink has been spilled about Marc Gasol and Mike Conley and their importance to the city of Memphis as they built. There’s not much more I can say that will break new ground on the subject. So at the risk of sounding like everyone else: Marc, Mike, Tony Allen, and Zach Randolph should 110% have a statue of the four of them outside FedExForum. I hope they build it while they’re still here.

-Only the Grizzlies could make someone like Jahlil Okafor, unanimously thought of as a bust, have the game of their lives against Memphis. On national TV. On Martin Luther King Day. As the home team.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

-The Pelicans game was probably one of the lowest points of the season. It’s not surprising that the trade rumor news broke after this game.

-In their first audition for the rest of the league, the duo of Mike and Marc absolutely balled out against Charlotte. It wasn’t enough for the win, but we all know this team isn’t good enough to support them even on their best days. On one hand, it was the best combined performance in recent memory, maybe all season at that point.

-On the other hand, it showed why we need to trade them both: they can perform as well they did then and we’ll still lose? What’s the point of wasting their talents in Memphis? There’s no unselfish reason to do so.

-The Kings won the season series against Memphis 3-1. A sad state of affairs.

-It was also a close game all the way through and definitely a winnable game, just like the rest of the season series against Sacramento. Every game was close and the largest margin of victory between the two came in Memphis’ sole win: 8 measly points.

-Before Saturday against the Pacers, Memphis won just one (1) game since December 29th. Staggering. It also makes sense why the team and city celebrated like it was a playoff win. It was fun.

-Bruno Caboclo was quite a revelation on Saturday! The kid who was 2 years away from 2 years away looks like he actually arrived, at least as a solid role player. If he can show some consistency in this role, he can probably get the same contract MarShon Brooks got a year ago after he balled out on his 10-day. I’m excited to see where this goes because there’s not a lot of future excitement past Jaren Jackson Jr.

-In this week’s edition of Single Game Plus-Minus is Hilarious:

Jevon Carter vs. Indiana - 0 pts, 0/6 FG, 0/3 3P, 0-2 FT, 1 rebs, 0 asts, 1 TOs, +7.

-Marc Gasol vs. Indiana - 18 pts, 7/12 FG, 3/6 3P, 1/2 FT, 7 rebs, 4 asts, 1 TOs, -9

-No one knows anything!

-The Indiana game was fun. Joakim Noah caught a lob(!) and Marc Gasol gave Mike Conley a big ol’ smooch to celebrate the win. What wasn’t there in basketball greatness was replaced by Twitter moment greatness. It’s nice to still have this kind of fun while we still have our core.

Protection Inspection

1/28 NBA Lottery Standings via tankathon.com
tankathon.com

At the moment, Memphis would keep their pick as it falls in the top-8. But it is a close call. A couple of wins in a row could drop Memphis from 6th/7th to 10th/11th and give Boston their draft pick. This is thought to be a top-heavy draft that thins out in the middle of the lottery, so it wouldn’t be a huge miss to lose this pick. But can Memphis afford not to keep any and every available asset to them? No.

With the trade rumors surrounding Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, Memphis seems committed to starting the rebuild. If they successfully tank this season and keep their pick, it becomes just top-6 protected in 2020 before it goes to Celtics. In 2021, it’s unprotected. This is a lose-lose, or win-win, depending on your view.

Week 15 Schedule and Preview

Denver Nuggets @ Memphis Grizzlies Mon. Jan. 28, 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves Weds. Jan. 30, 8:00 PM/7:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ Charlotte Hornets Fri. Feb. 1, 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT

Memphis Grizzlies @ New York Knicks Sun. Feb. 3, 1:00 PM ET/12:00 PM CT

Denver may have lost their spot as the #1 team in the West, but it isn’t because they’ve regressed. It’s because the Warriors got DeMarcus Cousins and they are now a fully operational Death Star aimed at the league. The Nuggets have won 4 of their last 5 games, each victory with an average margin of 26.3 points per game. That’s stupid good. And so is this team.

Nikola Jokic, despite his suspension for slightly leaving the bench during an altercation, is still playing an All-Star level and would likely find himself on some MVP ballots if the season ended today. If James Harden didn’t turn into a literal supernova, maybe more people would talk about how great Jokic has been. 20.1 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 7.7 APG. People will knock his defense, but let’s not lose the trees for the forest: Jokic is a bonafide MVP-candidate.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis will then head to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves. This would be the two teams’ first match-up with one another since Minnesota fired Tom Thibodeau. Interim coach Ryan Saunders, Flip’s son, hasn’t been coaching circles around his opponents, but Minnesota’s key players have played better under his post. Since Thibodeau’s firing, Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 25.3 PPG on .516/.378/.904 shooting and 12.0 RPG on just 30.2 minutes a night. He’s been incredible. Both Marc and Jaren will need to pitch in to contain him.

Memphis will invoke their rematch clause against the Hornets just 9 days after their previous matchup. Not much will be different this time, except the venue of the game.

What’s worrying about this game is...well, how Memphis performed in their last game. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol had great games on both sides of the ball and Memphis still lost. It’s not a stretch to say the role players need to step up, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world, clearly. The hardest part about finding a scenario where Memphis wins is that Charlotte is average at just about everything. Nothing stands out as a key team identity other than Kemba Walker being a flamethrower. So it might be best to keep him check, while also making sure Tony Parker doesn’t score 17 points in 17 minutes, AGAIN.

Memphis will spend their Super Bowl Big Game Sunday playing in Madison Square Garden against David Fizdale and the Knicks. The Knicks are sneakily an elite tanking team. As of Sunday night, they are 10-38 with 3 wins since December 1st. They are in no rush to bring Kristaps Porzingis back from his ACL injury and they clearly want to pair him with Zion Williamson. And Memphis clearly wants to keep their top-8 protected pick. This will truly be a clash of wills and tanks.

Have a good week, Memphis.

Follow @sbnGrizzlies