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Memphis Grizzlies 2021 Trade Deadline Primer

Today’s the deal! What can you expect from the Memphis Grizzlies?

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Memphis Grizzlies v Indiana Pacers Photo by A.J. Mast/NBAE via Getty Images

Today’s the day! It’s the NBA trade deadline, probably one of the best days of the season for Twitter GMs that love running the trade machine.

For the Memphis Grizzlies, it remains pretty simple. The only noise you’re likely hearing about Memphis is Gorgui Dieng, whose 3-and-D skillset from the 5 spot and his expiring contract make him an interesting trade commodity on the market.

Aside from that, don’t expect too many fireworks from the Grizzlies. There probably won’t be as much activity as the 2019 deadline that saw Marc Gasol, JaMychal Green, Garrett Temple, and Shelvin Mack moved. Nor will it be entertaining as the Andre Iguodala fiasco.

It’s hard to predict anything outside of Dieng, though many analysts have pegged Memphis as an interesting deadline team, because there are so many avenues they can take. They have the assets to bolster their roster for a playoff push, and they also have players that could net solid return for Zach Kleiman’s treasure of assets.

What could you expect from this trade deadline? Could there be more players on the move besides Gorgui Dieng?

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Will they find a Dieng good deal?

Sorry for the mediocre pun, but this is the primary storyline of the Grizzlies deadline aspirations. It’s clear this front office would like to extract value from Gorgui Dieng’s $17M expiring contract.

Yesterday, I touched on the potential obstacles and outcomes for a Dieng deal. The salary and roster crunch for the Grizzlies makes things tricky, but it wouldn’t shock me to see a deal be done though.

Best-case: The Grizzlies find a trade partner for Dieng, and it’s either the New York Knicks or Sacramento Kings. These are the two best teams they could find a deal with in terms of extracting value. With the Knicks’ cap flexibility, they could absorb Dieng’s deal, while sending out an oft-used prospect such as Kevin Knox — who’d be a great flier to bring in. If a Dieng trade is done with Sacramento, it could be easy to foresee a scenario it brings back Buddy Hield or Harrison Barnes. If that’s the case, Sacramento will likely want a 1st to go with it, and Utah’s rise in the West could make the Jazz pick more expendable.

Likely scenario: I still foresee a deal being done with Gorgui Dieng. Will it be a straight-up deal? That’s hard to tell. However, I could see Memphis using his salary to help facilitate a 3-team trade that’d bring back value. As I highlighted in my piece yesterday, I’d keep an eye on any Orlando Magic deal.

Worst-case: The worst-case scenario, ironically, is not a buyout. Even in that scenario, the Grizzlies would have a roster spot to play with where they could sign a veteran for the playoff push, give some Gubble standouts a flier, reward a few Hustle players, or convert Killian Tillie’s two-way contract. The actual worst-case scenario is taking on an equivalent salary with more years on it. If they took a player whose contract ran out after the 2021-22 season, that’s fine, because it gives them even more money in expiring contracts (more on that in a little bit). Taking on someone like Eric Gordon, who’s going to cost nearly $60M for the next 3 years, without taking on an enticing asset attached would be a tough pill to swallow.

A buyout isn’t bad, but I’d expect to hear something from Woj, Shams, or Chris Haynes on a Gorgui Dieng trade being done. If they could trade Andre Iguodala and Chandler Parsons, they can find something for Gorgui Dieng.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grayson Allen situation

It’s hard to predict another trade being done, but if there is, the first person to look at will probably be Grayson Allen.

The conversation of “taking the toy away from Coach” was tossed around on Twitter the other night, after Allen played crunch-time minutes over De’Anthony Melton and Desmond Bane. We’ve seen the Grizzlies organization do that the past 2 deadlines — JaMychal Green, Garrett Temple, Shelvin Mack, Solomon Hill, and Jae Crowder all come to mind. Grayson Allen is in a different predicament.

He’s a young 40% 3-point shooter, who boasts a good 3PA rate (.656) and can put the ball on the floor to finish in the paint or to make plays for his teammates. He is also theoretically under cost control for 5 more seasons, as he’s a restricted free agency in the 2022 offseason. He has value both to this team and in the league, but where his value is skewed lies over his place in the rotation. Shooting is a coveted premium, and Allen has shown he can shoot with volume and accuracy. His critics are upset that he’s playing over De’Antony Melton and Desmond Bane, and it’s understandable since they have more upside both now and for the next iteration of Grizzlies playoff teams. Just don’t let it skew what you think of Grayson Allen, because he’s proven himself as a rotation-level NBA player.

If anyone else besides Dieng is dealt, it’ll likely be Grayson. It’s possible he’s even thrown in a Dieng deal to make room for a new rotation player. However, don't be shocked if he’s on the roster — and in the starting lineup — after the deadline.

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Anything else? Only if the price is right.

The Memphis Grizzlies are likely to have a quiet deadline, aside from Gorgui Dieng, but that won’t stop them from a deal if the price is right.

NBA coverage extraordinaire Keith Smith considered these guys as several of the players the Grizzlies have as “available in the right trade” in his recent deadline primer: Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks, Justise Winslow, Kyle Anderson, Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman, and Tyus Jones.

I’m going to get a few out of the way. Bane and Tillman probably aren’t going anywhere, as the front office probably wants more than half a year of data before making a decision on their solid rookies. Justise Winslow is an investment, and he won’t go anywhere unless it’s in a package for a star.

So let’s get down to the other guys.

Tyus Jones is important to the Grizzlies — last season’s bubble highlighted it. However, he’s 10th in minutes per game since the All-Star break, only playing 14.4 minutes a night. Maybe, eventually De’Anthony Melton and Justise Winslow can handle it by committee, and if the staff and front office feel that way too, they may dangle him to teams in need of point guard depth.

Dillon Brooks, Jonas Valanciunas, and Kyle Anderson are important to what the Grizzlies are trying to do in the playoff push this season. From an asset standpoint, they can be used as salary filler for a bigger trade down the line, but if a contender called offering a late (or future) 1st round pick, the Grizzlies probably would (and should) take it. Valanciunas is a bruising, productive center that can play playoff minutes. Brooks and Anderson are good 3-and-D wings that can also be in a playoff rotation, as each of them can defend multiple positions and score in 3 levels.

I wouldn’t count on any of these things happening this deadline, but you also never know with this regime. If there are any additional fireworks to the deadline, it’ll likely be something similar to what’s mentioned here.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies-Press Conference Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

A quiet deadline could be for something bigger

If the Grizzlies don’t do anything besides Gorgui Dieng, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a part of the big picture. This season is for data accumulation, and getting information on these players in a playoff situation is extremely important.

In addition, it could be the beginning of a flurry of moves that could be in line for something bigger down the road. For starters, the Grizzlies could be having conversations on deals that’d happen this offseason — as our Site Manager Joe Mullinax alluded to with the Mike Conley trade on the latest Locked On Grizzlies podcast. Many analysts, including ESPN’s Bobby Marks, think the Grizzlies are in position to make noise — maybe even a trade for Bradley Beal.

It may not be for Beal, but the Grizzlies will have flexibility for a big move going into the offseason. They currently have $55M in expiring contracts for the 2022 offseason, and that group includes Valanciunas, Anderson, Winslow (a team option this summer), Jones, and Allen. Teams like cap relief and flexibility, and the Grizzlies offer that. On top of that, they also have all their 1st-round picks, the Jazz pick, and the Warriors 2024 pick.

The Grizzlies have a plethora of routes they could go down, and this front office has built the trust that they’re making the best move possible for this franchise.


  • Gorgui Dieng’s contract helps a team facilitate a 3-team trade. The Grizzlies may take additional salary, but nothing beyond the 2021-22 season. This will be the best means to make a Dieng deal.
  • A smaller secondary trade is made. I’m not going to predict who’s dealt here, but the Grizzlies may make 1 smaller trade — similar to the Jordan Bell and Bruno Caboclo trade we saw last season.
  • No rotation players are on the move. Whoever’s in the 10-man rotation will be safe...for now.

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