The trade deadline is approaching in the NBA and teams will begin jockeying for position via trades and the buyout market. The Memphis Grizzlies have the deepest team in the league with a cupboard full of draft assets - if any team is primed to make a move, it’s them.
But will they? The current starting lineup has not had much time to even show how good the could possibly be or not be. That group has played a total of 73 minutes together for a +14.7 during their time on the floor. In fact Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks have only shared the floor for 9 games this season, with a not so pretty record of 3-6. Small sample size theater, but still a reason to pause.
Patience has been the motto for Zach Kleiman and the Grizzlies, and I am not convinced that will change at this year’s deadline. However, decisions will need to be made in regards to this roster going forward.
Kyle Anderson, Tyus Jones and Jarrett Culver all have expiring deals, and a max extension for Ja Morant is due this offseason.
Culver is likely to be a contract filler in any deal but Memphis probably isn't pressing to get a return for him — although Kleiman will likely take a second round pick if he can. Will Tyus and Kyle demand pay raises next season is the big question. They likely will, and Memphis would be wise to get what they could for them.
So if Memphis wanted to cash in now and bring in a guy that would improve their odds this postseason, here are a few ideas:
Harrison Barnes deserves better than the Sacramento Kings. I would imagine getting a first round pick for Barnes is what Sacramento would want, but here they also get two expiring contracts along with a first rounder.
Bringing in Harrison Barnes does a few things for this Grizzlies team. He can defend the wing players but also a little bit on more traditional power forward types. He also is an offensive threat that does not need the ball all the time to be productive, just get it to him in his spots and he will knock it down.
This trade also could allow you to theoretically move Dillon Brooks to the bench, where he can maintain the high usage rate that he has and feast on the opposing bench units. Don’t panic because he isn’t starting, you would close with this lineup:
Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Harrison Barnes and Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Kings will ask for Bane or Brooks. Bane would be an absolute no go, and if Memphis were to include Brooks, there is no first round pick being sent back and you remove Kyle Anderson to use in another deal.
Now most trade machines are the big flashy trades that get everyone worked up. This one, this one is just a back of the roster move that benefits both teams. The Pacers, for whatever reason, just are not good and will probably be looking to change things up roster wise. Bringing on Culver’s expiring gives them some flexibility.
For Memphis, Craig would be a veteran presence that could play a role off the bench in the playoffs. A bigger wing with the ability to knock the three. He had a career year off the bench for Phoenix with his best Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating per 100 possessions as well as his best 3P% at 36.9%.
Again, probably not a needle mover, but a veteran presence like Craig could prove valuable down the stretch.
Before you jump out of your seat with rage, let me explain. Grant is even more perfect of a fit for Memphis than Harrison Barnes would be. Jerami Grant wants to be a high usage player, but high usage Jerami Grant is not the best version of himself. His best defensive and three point shooting seasons were the seasons in which his usage rate was around 15-16%. His shooting percentages and defensive efficiency dipped when he became “the guy” in Detroit.
Memphis does not need him to be the guy. They obviously have their guy — and now Detroit does too in Cade Cunningham. Returning Grant to his OKC role, not Denver, would be of great value to both he and the Grizzlies. He is a versatile defender that would also be highly effective in Jenkins’ system. His raw numbers in Detroit have elevated his price, therefore moving Dillon will probably be required.
Moving Dillon for this deal is also beneficial for everyone involved. His usage rate is entirely too high for being the fourth best player on the team and often times disrupts what is an insanely efficient offense. Trading him to Detroit allows for him to be a high usage player and would fit nicely next to Cunningham.
This is the exact same package that is proposed for Harrison Barnes. However, Atlanta is making a playoff push and could greatly benefit from Kyle’s defense and secondary playmaking. They do not need him to score. It also allows them to clear the books after the season is over for them to retool their roster a bit.
It just feels like destiny that Kyle/Culver/Pick is a package that Woj is going to tweet out at some point. Two expirings with one player who can help a team now. Bogdan has struggled at times this season and perhaps could benefit from a change of scenery and put into a new system may rekindle his scoring touch, one that he displayed against Memphis this season.
In the end, the Memphis Grizzlies may opt to stand pat. That is fine - while they are probably in the first year of their “window”, the window does not close until Ja Morant is no longer a Grizzly — so it is like a 15 year window hopefully. But if Memphis were to make a move, it would be to cash in on the expiring deals plus some of their draft capital to upgrade the depth this team has, not add to it.