Miles Bridges and Buddy Hield, while lofty names unlikely to become Memphis Grizzlies, are not true stars in the NBA. Fans of the Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings get frustrated with the performance of Bridges and Hield, and the cost to acquire these players would be potentially high when compared to their probable ceilings as starters/key role players in Beale Street Blue.
If the Grizzlies are going to spend a lot of their draft capital, ideally they would do it swinging for the fences.
There are players in free agency - Rodney Hood, Joe Harris, etc. - that could potentially help Memphis, depending on demands and what the Grizzlies do via trade/with De’Anthony Melton as a restricted free agent. But there’s no opportunity at a star signing in Memphis due to the Justise Winslow/Gorgui Dieng acquisitions before the trade deadline. Between considering that fact and the idea that Memphis is not a free agent destination at this time, if there is to be a major acquisition it will have to be via trade.
Again, these moves likely will not happen. A lot would need to occur for the following three names to become available for the Grizzlies, and to get them to Memphis may cost more than GM Zach Kleiman and company are willing to pay. But as was stated in part one, this is a wish list. We’re dreaming away our quarantine blues. Indulge a little.
Number Three: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
If Phoenix descended in to a downward spiral, Booker could be had. It may cost you Brandon Clarke and multiple 1st rounders, but it’d be worth it.
Booker is an All-Star caliber player, as are the two guys that will be discussed after him. He’s already one of the elite volume scorers in the NBA, and is an underrated creator of offense for others. According to cleningtheglass.com, Booker ranks in the 99th percentile in assist percentage with 28.9% of his teammates’ made shots coming off of a Booker assist. He’s an elite free throw shooter (91.6%) and converts 36% of his shots from three on 5.6 attempts per game. Devin is having a career best year in terms of win shares per 48 minutes, as well as in VORP - value above replacement player - according to basketballreference.com.
Oh, and he won’t be 24 until October 30th and is under contract through 2024.
What’s not to love?
Booker isn’t the prototypical multi-positional wing, however. He is more of a combo guard, a traditional “shooting guard” who has some point guard tendencies. He’s capable of running the offense, but is much better as a scoring threat off the ball/off screens. He’s 6’5” with a 6’8” wingspan, making him more like a bigger De’Anthony Melton than a Justise Winslow or Kyle Anderson in terms of his frame. This hurts him a bit on the wish list - positional versatility matters, and Booker isn’t able to provide that as much as the guys in front of him can.
He also doesn’t have the defensive potential to be higher on this list. He’s not as bad as some would make him out to be, and in a system where he doesn’t have to defend the best player for the opposition plus has help like Jaren Jackson Jr. alongside him, he may have more success. But he is more of an offensive threat than a defensive one, and that’s what led to him getting paid.
That’s another reason for the lower ranking. He will be on the books through 2024 at a max contract price. By then, you’re paying Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, (presumably) Justise Winslow, and others. You lose some flexibility with this acquisition...but if it works as you hope, and you put an elite scoring guard next to Jaren and Ja?
Title contention could await.
BEST OFFER: Gorgui Dieng, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, 2020 Utah Jazz 1st round pick (protected top 7, #15-30 in 2020-21, top 6 in 2022, top 3 in 2023, top 1 in 2024, else 2025 second round pick, 2026 second round pick), 2022 Memphis Grizzlies 1st round pick (1-4 protected, unprotected in 2023 if not conveyed), 2024 Golden State Warriors 1st round pick (1-4 protected in 2024, 1 protected 2025, unprotected 2026 if unconveyed)
NUMBER TWO: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Beal does not have the contract stability of Booker. He also has a smaller frame (6’3” with a 6’8” wingspan) limiting his potential in position-less basketball. But the eventual, potential (likely?) collapse of the Wizards and Beal’s shooting stroke over a longer body of work in terms of career makes him higher on the wish list.
Booker is a key cog to the future in Phoenix, and the Suns seem to finally be on a path to relative competitiveness. Where Phoenix may be on the way up from their bottom, the possibility of the abyss for Washington could lead to a moving on from Beal. John Wall’s massive supermax extension hangs over the Wizards - if he is unable to come back from injury as the player Washington hopes he can be, it may make more sense to acquire as much young talent/picks as possible to begin a full rebuild.
Memphis has just what the doctor ordered.
D.C. may not value Brandon Clarke as much, because they already have Clarke’s college teammate Rui Hachimura on their roster. But they could value a “cheaper” dominant big man like Jonas Valanciunas and a shooting guard like Dillon Brooks to fill the void left by Beal. Add in Grayson Allen as a guard prospect and multiple first round selections, and there could be the makings of a deal. If Clarke is valued after all, you ship him out. But in this scenario, Washington values extra draft capital.
Beal is a scorer of the ball in a variety of ways. A career 38% three point shooter, Beal has taken it upon himself to carry the Wizards to some semblance of playoff contention in the weak Eastern Conference by posting a massive 30.5 points per game. With Memphis, he could be back alongside a point guard like John Wall once was in terms of athleticism in Ja Morant and also next to talented young big men in Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. This trade also allows Memphis to keep players like Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson in the fold as long-term rotation pieces.
Beal would have a superior supporting cast around him to the one he currently has in Washington. Would that be enough for him to sign a long-term extension in Memphis (Beal can opt out of his current contract in the summer of 2022)? A fair question - one that makes his acquisition a larger risk than that of Booker or the gentleman that’s number one on this list. But if he could guide the Grizzlies to success, and could see that his prime years (Beal will turn 27 in June) would be spent on a contending roster on the up rather than one where a rebuild was just beginning?
The investment would perhaps be worth moving on from several key players/assets for. Hopefully John Konchar and Jontay Porter are legit.
BEST OFFER: Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks, Grayson Allen, 2020 Utah Jazz first round pick (protected top 7, #15-30 in 2020-21, top 6 in 2022, top 3 in 2023, top 1 in 2024, else 2025 second round pick, 2026 second round pick), 2022 Memphis Grizzlies 1st round pick (1-4 protected, unprotected in 2023 if not conveyed), 2024 Golden State Warriors 1st round pick (1-4 protected in 2024, 1 protected 2025, unprotected 2026 if unconveyed), 2025 Memphis Grizzlies 1st round pick (1-4 protected, unprotected in 2026 if unconveyed)
NUMBER ONE: Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Yes, the dream.
There is a real chance that Bradley Beal coming to Memphis could happen. That’s possible - you don’t have think too far beyond the realm of possibility to get to that conclusion. Devin Booker is less likely than Beal, but still in theory COULD happen, given the recent history of struggles for Phoenix. Both the Wizards and Suns could wipe the slate clean and start again...
Boston won’t. So Jaylen Brown won’t be becoming a Grizzly.
But if he did? He’d be perfect.
He’s under contract to the summer of 2024, like Devin Booker, but the contract isn’t nearly as expensive (4 years $107 million). He doesn’t have the walk option in his deal like Beal does, and of all three of these players Brown is the one that best fits the positional versatility the Grizzlies are looking for (6’6” with a 7’ wingspan) and combines offensive potential (over 20 points per game this season while shooting 38% from beyond the arc) with rebounding (over 6 per game) and defensive ability. Brown is truly the total package, and has shown remarkable growth in his game this season as a passer (10.2% assist percentage, a career best) and as a contributor to winning basketball (career bests in win shares per 48 minutes and VORP).
Oh, and he turns 24 in October of this year, just like Devin Booker.
He’s the perfect fit alongside the young core of Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, (hopefully) Justise Winslow, and Jaren Jackson Jr. The only problem? You’d have to probably give up a big chunk of those other members - Jonas Valanciunas, Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks - to acquire him, in addition to multiple firsts. Boston is a title contender right now, and Brown is a big piece of that puzzle. While the Celtics have holes in their roster (a new starting center would be nice), to part with Brown would mean a substantial dip in wing production. Boston isn’t going to do that.
Which is why he’s number one on the wish list. It’s a dream. But a Morant/Brown/Winslow/Clarke/Jackson Jr. starting five, all under the age of 25 when the 2020-2021 season tipped off would be one hell of a jumping off point toward a monster decade for the Memphis Grizzlies.
BEST OFFER: Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks, Tyus Jones, 2020 Utah Jazz 1st round pick (protected top 7, #15-30 in 2020-21, top 6 in 2022, top 3 in 2023, top 1 in 2024, else 2025 second round pick, 2026 second round pick), 2022 Memphis Grizzlies 1st round pick (1-4 protected, unprotected in 2023 if not conveyed), 2024 Golden State Warriors 1st round pick (1-4 protected in 2024, 1 protected 2025, unprotected 2026 if unconveyed)
Did you expect someone else? Is there a “realistic dream” option that was left off the list? Is 3-4 first round picks and multiple rotation players too much for a Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, or Jaylen Brown? Let me know in the comments below.
Stats and contract information provided by basketball-reference.com