The Grizzlies continued their roster overhaul last season on July 3rd as they traded the then-recently acquired Kyle Korver and 2019 2nd round pick Jevon Carter to the Phoenix Suns for De’Anthony Melton and former #4 overall pick Josh Jackson, plus two second round picks.
The Grizzlies were praised for the move as they landed a former lottery pick as well as a solid player in De’Anthony Melton while only really giving up Jevon Carter, whose time in Memphis was cut short once the Grizzlies revamped their front office. The two second round picks just made the trade that much better for the Grizzlies.
The reaction wasn’t quite as positive for the Suns, as the Ricky Rubio signing effectively forced them to sell low on Josh Jackson (and waive Korver’s partially guaranteed deal) to create the necessary cap space for Rubio.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton gave the Grizzlies an “A” on the trade while the Suns got just a “C”. SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun seemed pretty excited to be moving on from Jackson after a couple years of disappointment. Meanwhile, Sports 56’s Anthony Sain was one of the first to get on the De’Anthony Melton train.
A year later, are the Grizzlies still clear winners of the trade?
What We Know From This Season
The trade ultimately worked out well for both teams.
For Phoenix, Jevon Carter turned out to be a nice surprise as his usual defensive prowess helped the Suns improve immensely on that end. Offensively, Carter didn’t provide much of a spark but was pretty efficient when he was called upon. Carter stepped up even more in the bubble scoring 7 points per game, over 2 rebounds and assists plus a steal. He did this while shooting over 50% from the field as the Suns went 8-0 in Orlando. The cap space created by waiving Kyle Korver to sign Ricky Rubio worked out as well, with Rubio averaging 13 points, 8.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Though the trade worked out for Phoenix, the Grizzlies are still a clear winners in this trade as well. De’Anthony Melton broke out with the Grizzlies second unit, becoming one of their better defenders and one of the most efficient players on the team. Melton became an analytics darling for the Grizzlies and became a big impact player after starting the season at the end of the bench due to injury.
The Josh Jackson experiment was a unique one for the Grizzlies. Jackson dominated in the G-League as he started the season with the Hustle. After a couple of months, Jackson was finally called up to the Grizzlies in January. It took until late February for Jackson to truly break out with the Grizzlies but he was really coming into his own as the NBA season was suspended. Jackson averaged 16.6 points, 2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and a block and steal per game in the month of March. Unfortunately for Jackson, the NBA hiatus killed all momentum he had with the Grizzlies. Jackson struggled in the Orlando bubble, where he only appeared in four games, but only one with semi-substantial minutes. Nobody knows what happened between March and July, but Jackson clearly played himself out of the rotation.
What We Know Going Forward
With both De’Anthony Melton and Josh Jackson set to be free agents this offseason, it will be interesting to see what the Grizzlies decide to do with both of them. Melton will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Grizzlies can match any offer sheet he signs. Still, the Grizzlies would be hesitant to match a large offer sheet with both Dillon Brooks and Grayson Allen locked up for the next two seasons. We’ll find out this offseason how much the Grizzlies truly value De’Anthony Melton.
Josh Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and although rumors suggest Jackson wants to stay in Memphis, his removal from the rotation leads me to believe Josh will be playing elsewhere next year.
Even if the Grizzlies lose both Jackson and Melton for nothing, they still essentially traded Jevon Carter for two second-round picks which should still be viewed as a positive. The Grizzlies have a handful of options with Jackson and Melton this offseason, and GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax already discussed the possibility of a Melton sign and trade. Though it’s more likely Jackson just signs a deal with another team, expect the Grizzlies to do their due diligence on getting something in return for Jackson this offseason as well.
The Grizzlies will also have the 40th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft with a handful of solid players projected to be available when the Grizzlies are on the clock.
We probably won’t know the true “winner” of this trade until after the offseason. If Melton and Jackson walk for nothing, Suns fans will probably claim they are the winners. Should Melton return with the Grizzlies, or if the Grizzlies get a solid return in a sign and trade, the Grizzlies will probably be the clear winners.
Ultimately the trade will probably end up being a “win/win” for both teams as each team got what they wanted in the deal.