On July 6th, 2019, the Grit and Grind era came to it’s official end (the trade was agreed to weeks before) as the final member of the Core Four, Mike Conley Jr., was sent to the Utah Jazz for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, a future first round pick —likely to convey this upcoming season— and Jae Crowder. In part one of this series, we looked at the direct impact of the first three names involved in this trade. In part two, I will marry this fourth branch of Jae Crowder with Kleiman’s favorite garden pruning tool — breaking limbs into smaller pieces.
Taking swings for wings is not a concept exclusive to Zach Kleiman. Chris Wallace took the biggest, riskiest swing in franchise history — besides Hasheem Thabeet I suppose— on Chandler Parsons. The idea of Parsons was awesome and had he been the healthy version of himself, who knows how it would've paid off — it sounds like a great “What If?” episode. The Chandler Parsons seed never really grew into a tree, it was more like a
scrub shrub, but nevertheless is merged with a low hanging branch on the Mike Conley tree.
One of the more highly celebrated deals of the Kleiman era so far came the very next day, July 7th, 2019. He traded the remains of Chandler Parsons and his multi-millions to the Atlanta Hawks for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee. Plumlee, along with Ivan Rabb, were waived on October 19, 2019, but Solo stuck around and contributed both on the court and in the locker room as a veteran presence. Parsons enjoyed his paychecks while collecting splinters in Atlanta.
The beauty behind this deal was that Kleiman got off the atrocious $25 million owed to Parsons and in to two contracts worth $12.7 million and $12.5 million. The reports were that Memphis and Parsons could not agree on a buyout price, so moving Parsons for two smaller contracts make the money easier to deal with for Kleiman. In fact, Plumlee was bought out by Memphis before the season even started.
Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder both played their veteran roles for the Memphis Grizzlies and the fans bought in. While Crowder struggled offensively, he was an important presence on the court for the Grizz at times. For a team focused on development, however, he was eating valuable minutes and shots that could have gone to younger players. At the trade deadline, Kleiman - by trading Parsons in the offseason - had created the flexibility and filled the toolshed enough to be an attractive trade partner with other teams chasing a ring. Kleiman’s first wing swing took place when he sent Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill and Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat for Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters.
Waiters was subsequently bought out but he was the price of bringing on a young wing with a ton of perceived potential. Winslow had the size and playmaking chops that Memphis was looking for to fit next to Ja and Jaren. In a vacuum it is really easy to bash the trade, as Jae Crowder has played in two straight Finals and Solo has been a valuable piece for Eastern Conference Finalist Atlanta Hawks after playing in the 2019-20 Finals with Miami. But if I told you in 2018 that the Grizzlies essentially turned Chandler Parsons into Justise Winslow, there would be elation in the streets. Because Winslow got reinjured and was probably forcing it on the court in an attempt to prove himself, he is widely viewed as a failure.
Sure, the Winslow swing was a whiff, but the idea of Winslow (and the price it took to get that chance) was certainly worth it. The underrated part of the deal was the Team Option on his contract, allowing Memphis to make a choice on their commitment to him and creating flexibility for the moves this offseason. The removal of Crowder and Solo allowed for the Grizzlies to get a better look at other guys. Leading up to the trade, both players were getting over 20 minutes plus apiece. Moving them gave more minutes to Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton, and Kyle Anderson as well getting a look at Kyle in the starting lineup next Ja.
The Jae Crowder branch merging with the annoying ivy of Chandler Parsons has completely died and essentially ruled fruitless, but if every move and deal in the NBA was the right move, then would there be that many moves at all?
Branch 5 - Future 1st Round Pick
This first round pick is Top 6 protected in the 2022 NBA Draft and in all likelihood will be conveyed to the Memphis Grizzlies as a pick somewhere in the mid to late 20’s. If Memphis were to keep this pick for themselves, players such as Marcus Bagley and Kennedy Chandler are projected to be available in that range currently. All signs point towards this pick not being made for Memphis. The only pick Kleiman has made in his assigned slot was Ja Morant. For the Grizzlies’ GM, he has proven he is not afraid to combine assets to move up in the draft to get his guy.
The way that Kleiman has operated, obtaining three first round picks in 2022, points to the likelihood of asset accumulation for the sake of big swing trade. This has been widely covered by this blog and others, but this pick still leaves massive potential for extreme fruitfulness from the Mike Conley trade tree.