The Memphis Grizzlies have decided they will take the reigns and kick off the always exciting NBA offseason with a blockbuster move.
BREAKING: Memphis is finalizing a trade to send Jonas Valanciunas and 2021 Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, 2021 picks Nos. 10 and 40 and a protected 2022 first-round pick via the Lakers, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 26, 2021
As was reported yesterday from multiple sources, the Grizzlies and Pelicans were gaining traction on a deal that centered on Eric Bledsoe and the 10th pick moving to Memphis with New Orleans moving back to pick 17. However, it seems that was simply part of the deal, as it certainly expanded with Jonas Valanciunas and picks 17 and 51 going to the Pelicans for Steven Adams, Bledsoe, picks 10 and 40 in 2021, and a protected 2022 pick from the Lakers.
On the surface, the move seems to be a positive one on both ends. The Pelicans move present salary to open up the opportunity to improve their roster now as they are focused on winning immediately, and also get an immediate upgrade at center in Valanciunas. The Grizzlies, who have maintained a focus on the future despite making it to the playoffs last year, improve their draft positioning in a loaded 2021 draft and now are slated to potentially have three 2022 first round picks as well.
The disappointment of the deal is certainly the departure of Valanciunas, who has been sensational in his role while with the Grizzlies. However, going into the final year of his contract, future decisions regarding Valanciunas, Kyle Anderson, and others were certainly on the horizon. The most likely scenario was always going to be Memphis eventually parting with a few key veterans next summer.
Instead, the Grizzlies decided to turn present value into future value. Similar to taking on the contract of Andre Iguodala in 2019, in an exchange for the contracts of Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe, the Grizzlies not only gain significantly better picks this year but an additional asset. Bledsoe is owed around $18M next year with buyout of just under $4M for 2022-2023 while Adams is still owed $35M over the next two years combined. While both players are certainly serviceable talents, the main focus was always improving the Grizzlies draft capital.
This trade has been swirling for a few days in different iterations as we reported yesterday. Many around the NBA believe Memphis will look to target Josh Giddey at No. 10, if he's available. That's one of the reasons we put him in that slot yesterday: https://t.co/VEdy8p5uV6 https://t.co/iVuJhUwwEb— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) July 26, 2021
Now the focus turns to what the Grizzlies may do with their picks this year and next. While rumors such as the one from Jonathan Givony above are one avenue to take, with five top 40 picks over the next two drafts and the creativity of this front office, this could be the first of multiple moves to come. With a focus on the future, Zach Kleiman and the Memphis front office remain focused on creating as good of a chance to be a sustainable winner as possible.
Once again, it seems they have been successful with their efforts.
Stay with us at GBB for what is going to be an exciting week for the Grizzlies.