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Memphis Grizzlies Trade Deadline Primer and Predictions

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The hour is nigh.

Memphis Grizzlies v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

We are so close to the NBA Trade Deadline, you can almost feel Andre Iguodala looking down his nose at the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. You know, the team that, depending on who you ask, is holding him hostage.

Beyond the cries of mostly Lakers fans - and some media members - calling for Iggy’s “freedom”, there has been no indication that Memphis plans on allowing Iguodala to be bought out and able to join whatever team he likes. The ironic reality of the Grizzlies’ current playoff positioning is not lost on anyone - it isn’t just a spiteful act of a small market scorned. Memphis may be taking on the L.A. Lakers in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Why allow Iguodala to join that team without making L.A. pay the price first?

Especially when the “legitimate” competition for the Lakers also has interest in the services of Andre Iguodala...and could actually pull off a deal.

This trade deadline, while far less active/interesting than this time last year when both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley were on the block, will still be a partial window in to how Zachary Kleiman, Jason Wexler, and the rest of the Grizzlies front office sees the state of the Memphis rebuild. Yes, the Grizzlies are currently ahead of schedule. But the games that lie ahead of Memphis are difficult - a winning percentage of opponents the rest of the way of .540 proves that. The playoffs remain a dream that, while nowhere near as farfetched as it once was, is still a dream.

The reality? The long-term must remain the focus. And it likely will.

Here are three things to watch for as the trade deadline approaches.

The three most likely Andre Iguodala destinations

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The best part? None of them are the Los Angeles Lakers. In order of likelihood...

3. Houston Rockets

The Rockets remain interested in the services of Iggy, and who can blame them? Andre has the skills that all “sixteen game” playoff players need to possess, even at his advanced NBA age. Add on his experience alongside the mighty Golden State Warriors dynasty, and it makes total sense a team like Houston would value his services and would want to acquire him so the Lakers don’t while getting their own LeBron defender for a potential postseason showdown.

The types of deals that make sense, however, require a third team to facilitate. The money and assets simply do not lineup for a Houston-to-Memphis swap. So who could help? (Shoutout to tradenba.com)

There are different ways to get to this type of a deal, but the $12.5 million of Marcus Smart is the easiest way. There are multiple smaller contracts beyond Vincent Poirier - Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis - that the Boston Celtics could ship out to make this trade work. It would complicate matters, however, and while Smart is beloved in Boston Capela fills a need for the Celtics and they maintain a pretty potent starting five of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Capela. Houston gives up a late 1st to get their man Iguodala, and they also get Poirier - a cheaper option that they hope can fill a void at center. Memphis gets a player that can help establish their culture in Smart and another 1st round pick to add to their collection.

Not a Marcus Smart fan due to his offensive woes? Don’t want two or three bigs in return for Iggy? There’s another team that helps this happen more cleanly.

Credit to GBB’s Brandon Abraham for the original motivation for this trade. The difference between his and mine? I am asking for a 2nd 1st rounder - this one from Houston - and shipping out a couple of 2nd rounders. That’s the cost of taking on “dead money” in Evan Turner and helping Houston get their man. I am also getting Houston a “Capela replacement” in Bruno Fernando, a cheap, young, talented big. It could be as simple as Brandon laid out on Twitter-

If the Rockets truly are “persistent”, they’ll continue to pursue 3-team deals. Because of that extra layer of complication, however, the Rockets are our 3rd team on this list.

Second? One that may already have an understanding with Memphis that if it all hits the fan, a deal will be there.

2. Dallas Mavericks

It isn’t flashy, or sexy. But it would do, at the final hour.

Again, that Golden State 2nd round selection - currently slated to be #31 overall - is not as valuable as a 1st round pick. But that is as good as you can get beyond a 1st rounder, and in this scenario there is no better option for the Grizzlies. It is 2:59 PM CT Thursday afternoon, and you run the risk of missing out on an opportunity to acquire another asset for Iggy. Dallas has the same record as Houston as of this writing, and any team that is able to avoid the two L.A. squads in the first round has a shot in the Western Conference to go on a run. Luka Doncic is having an All-NBA season, and Iggy could bring a veteran presence and defensive swagger that the Mavericks desperately needs.

But would Andre want to play in Dallas? Maybe not - he reportedly is willing to sit out the rest of the season if he doesn’t get moved to a team on his approved list.

Houston has James Harden and Russell Westbrook - two players Iggy likely would be happy to play next to for a short while - while Dallas isn’t as attractive in terms of star power. Maybe the Mavericks wouldn’t work out...or maybe Mark Cuban thinks he can convince Iguodala to come help push a young Dallas team over the top.

If it doesn’t work out? All the Mavs lose is a 2nd rounder - albeit a valuable one. Memphis gets another asset and a returning positive presence in Courtney Lee who may not play a minute for the Grizzlies, but will be willing to support the young squad.

So why is this deal 2nd on the list? The question of Iggy’s preferences...and the fact that there’s a better contender, on the coast where Iguodala wants to be, that can make a move.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

He gets to go to L.A. Just not the Lakers. How sweet would it be...

There’s a chance Memphis has an agreed upon deal with the Clippers, and not the Mavericks, but a 2nd rounder or two is the sweetener for the Grizzlies instead of the last 1st rounder the Clippers have for the foreseeable future. All this talk of the Rockets being so interested, among other squads like the Milwaukee Bucks, perhaps gets L.A. to upgrade to the 1st round pick.

The Clippers acquire a defensive wing that can facilitate offense and impact a game without having to score. The Grizzlies get a young (compared to Iggy) combo forward in Maurice Harkless and a solid end-of-bench player in Rodney McGruder, plus a 1st round pick late in this draft...where many say there could be value, as opposed to the top.

The Clippers are real contenders. They are in an ideal place Iguodala would want to be. They can make a deal happen without having to have a 3rd team involved. And they have a 1st rounder they can trade. Because of these factors, the Clippers are the top team to watch regarding Iggy as the deadline approaches.

The three other expiring contracts that could move

Memphis Grizzlies v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

In order from least likely to most likely...

JOSH JACKSON- The young Jackson may well not be in the long-term plans of Memphis. But with the loss of Grayson Allen for an indefinite amount of time due to injury, a rotation spot has opened up. Now the Grizzlies have the chance to see exactly what Josh can be with this roster. Perhaps the bridge has been burned in Jackson’s mind entering free agency, and he has no desire to stick with the franchise that forced him to spend half the season with the Memphis Hustle. There’s no denying the athleticism and potential of Jackson, though, and by all public accounts he has been a model citizen within the Grizzlies organization. Could he come back to Memphis? Unless a sweetheart deal comes along, either involving him alone or tagged on to another contract, it’s probably worth holding on to him to find out.

A sample sweetheart deal - New York Knicks send Wayne Ellington, 2020 and 2021 2nd round picks (via Charlotte) to Memphis for Josh Jackson

SOLOMON HILL- While the #1 player on this list (spoiler alert - it’s Jae Crowder) gets the publicity for veteran leadership and importance as a starter, it is Hill who has settled nicely in to a role as a reserve and actually contributes well compared to the minutes and expectations attached to him. Never forget - Hill is still in Memphis because he’s better than Miles Plumlee. Now, he has resuscitated his NBA career and proved that while he may never make as much money as he is this season, he is a roster player on a good team.

What is that worth to a contender? Maybe not much. But if you’re trying to get off bad money and want an expiring contract, a 2nd round pick or two may get you there. And that would be impressive asset flipping by this Grizzlies front office. Hill is the next most likely to be traded beyond two obvious candidates...but it seems unlikely he gets dealt.

A sample sweetheart deal - Minnesota Timberwolves send Gorgui Dieng and a 2021 1st round pick (lottery protected in 2021, protected 1-6 in 2022, converts to two 2nd rounders in 2023 and 2024 if not conveyed) for Solomon Hill, a 2021 2nd round pick (via Portland), and a 2022 2nd round pick (less favorable between Detroit and Chicago)

JAE CROWDER- It is Crowder, and not Iguodala, that will give the best glimpse of what Memphis’ front office is thinking here in year one. On one hand, Jae Crowder is the veteran wing that actually embraced a role in Memphis as an experienced voice on a young roster. If the Grizzlies wanted to retain his services next year, they could for a relatively low amount compared to other free agent options. He also figures to be more open to sliding in to a reserve role as the roster turns over and takes the next steps in the evolution of this rebuild.

On the other hand? Jae hasn’t been very good this season. He shoots below 30% from beyond the arc, yet attempts the 2nd most threes per game for the team. On the court he is struggling in a variety of ways, and there are younger/better options on the roster as it is in Kyle Anderson and the aforementioned Josh Jackson. Crowder’s eventual departure opens up opportunity.

For better or for worse, Crowder deserves credit for the rapid growth and strong early performance from this team. What’s that worth? We’re about to find out.

A sample sweetheart deal - Brooklyn Nets send Garrett Temple and two 2021 2nd round picks (via Phoenix and Atlanta) to Memphis for Jae Crowder

Three predictions for the deadline

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
  1. IGGY HEADS TO THE CLIPPERS. Makes too much sense for all involved. Memphis is able to squeeze the 1st round pick out of L.A. with Houston rumors growing.
  2. JAE CROWDER DOES NOT GET TRADED. Memphis’ front office listens to its young core, decides a 2nd rounder or two isn’t worth the disruption. Here’s to hoping it’s worth it.
  3. THE GRIZZLIES WILL BE RUMORED TO USE SOLOMON HILL TO FACILITATE THE CAPELA DEAL. Not Iggy. Why would Houston be interested in this? It would get them under the luxury tax, depending on the center that returns in the three-team trade. Not saying it for sure happens. Saying it gets floated as a possibility.

Happy trade deadline everyone!

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