Finally, one way or another, the insanity will end today.
The trade deadline will soon be upon us - 2 PM CT, to be exact. The Memphis Grizzlies will take the floor tonight looking either very different, a little different, or like Marc Gasol was out for a game due to injury/”load management” and will be back shortly.
It’s not hyperbole to say this could be one of the most consequential days in the history of this organization. It could also be just another Thursday for an ownership/front office group that may soon be rapidly shooting up to the top of the dysfunctional/incompetent rankings.
These are indeed the stakes. It is very possible the Grizzlies make moves on the edge of the roster, using expiring contracts like Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green to acquire draft picks. It appears still likely that Marc Gasol could be shipped to Charlotte and the Hornets, or some other squad waiting in the wings. Mike Conley’s market has reportedly cooled, but you never know for sure who is leaking what information for the sake of leverage.
So...deal or no deal? Let’s break it down.
What is most likely to happen today?
While you can easily argue for Marc Gasol, who is not with the team in Oklahoma City and has been the subject of intense trade speculation since Tuesday, that trade involves a lot of money, moving pieces in terms of protections, and emotional baggage. Meanwhile, Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green are both on expiring contracts and don’t figure to fit in to a Grizzlies rebuild, if that is indeed the direction Memphis is heading in.
Those two chunks of change coming off the books for a playoff contender, while still being good rotation pieces off the bench, would be worth giving up a 2nd round pick or two...or perhaps even a 1st, if heavily protected. Look for teams like Philadelphia and Brooklyn to kick the tires on one of, if not both, of these guys. Both of these players should be traded by the deadline. If the front office is completely oblivious or just doesn’t care, or if other teams don’t see JaM and/or Garrett as worthy of at least a 2nd round pick (unlikely), they won’t be. That’d be a mistake on multiple fronts.
Honorable mention to Justin Holiday, who should be in a similar situation but due to the package given up by this front office just to acquire him seems less likely to be on the move.
Is the Gasol deal going down?
The on-again, off-again nature of this whole process with Marc has been exhausting. It has to be hard on him and his family - yes, he is paid very well, and this is part of the business. No tears, beyond missing arguably the greatest player in Grizzlies history, should be shed. Yet this front office and the representation of Gasol (and whoever else on Charlotte’s side) have done the potential deal no favors with all the leaks that have come about. So many actual trades that have occurred have gone down in silence, with no inklings or rumors beyond speculation until the actual transaction came about.
That has most certainly not been the case here.
If Charlotte’s package is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, and a top-8 protected 1st round pick, that haul should be considered. MKG and Zeller are in a similar age bracket to Kyle Anderson, and your front court would be set for the foreseeable future. You could look to the point guard and shooting guard positions in the draft. It’s not what you wanted fully for Marc, but the market may not be much beyond Charlotte. Part of the risk of holding on to the Gasol and Conley era was them aging out of their best value. That has likely happened with Marc - he has played better of late, but for almost two months he was awful. You can easily argue he’s a major reason why this season has gone off the rails, whether through playing through injury or simply losing his battle with Father Time (as we all do).
It is more likely than not that Marc is moved today. It’s a lock that Grizzlies fans and media are not going to like the return.
Should Memphis wait on moving Mike Conley?
If Mike Conley is still a Grizzly when the deadline passes, it will definitely not be the worst outcome this day could have. You can easily argue that Conley is the best trade asset Memphis has outside of Jaren Jackson Jr. (who will obviously not be traded), and he is under contract next season while Gasol may opt out with his player option, which hinders his market. The reported deals for Conley from Utah and Detroit, in theory, could very well still be there for Memphis this summer, and could even potentially improve with the cap space that will be available to almost half the league.
This is important - so many squads will have cash to burn, but not all the max-level players will come to them. Names like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant...those players are looking for specific locations where they can both win and expand their “brands”. Not every market offers the combination of that, and some of these teams with space will almost certainly strike out in free agency.
That’s when a Conley deal makes sense. As someone’s plan B or even C.
While Memphis is motivated to move on from Mike, it doesn’t have to be rushed. Conley leading the transition to the rebuild, even without Gasol by his side, could be beneficial to the Grizzlies. He can demonstrate professionalism, he can serve as a reason for the fans to continue to come out and watch the team, and perhaps most importantly with Conley in the fold your odds of conveying that 2019 1st round pick to Boston are that much better in what is widely assumed to be a weaker draft.
Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio, a 1st round pick and 2nd round pick is not awful value for Mike. But it also is by no means a home run. Conley’s value doesn’t figure to drop too much, health permitting, and Memphis can look to acquire something for him on draft night or elsewhere. While he is playing some of his best basketball now, the Grizzlies have some leverage here. A Gasol deal is a more pressing need...Mike should be in addition to, if the right deal came along.
Trade Deadline Predictions
Here we go...
- Marc Gasol will no longer be a Grizzly. It is time. Thank you Marc.
- Mike Conley will still be here. It will be for the best in the long run.
- Memphis will make at least one additional move. Temple, Green, a combo, Holiday...there are heavily protected 1sts and multiple 2nds that could be had for these guys if Memphis is willing to take back bad money, as they should be. Would help a move of Chandler Parsons this summer, or just help restock their draft pick cupboard.
- Change is coming. Post-deadline, be ready for front office shake ups. Restructuring potentially, and perhaps even more. Again...it is time. Perhaps this is believing too much in ownership...but transition should come both on and off the court for the Grizzlies.