The Memphis Grizzlies did not trade Jarrett Culver. Or Kyle Anderson. Or Xavier Tillman Sr. Or anybody, actually. The entire team remains in place after 2 PM CT, meaning the roster is what it is. For better or worse.
Which, as has been discussed often, is totally OK.
Some quick thoughts on a literally silent NBA Trade Deadline for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The other two best teams in the NBA were also largely silent.
The Phoenix Suns strengthened the end of their rotation, moving on from Jalen Smith for Torrey Craig. The Golden State Warriors did the same thing the Grizzlies did - nothing. When you’re already one of the NBA’s elite, there is no need to be desperate for a move...unless you’re in a Ben Simmons/James Harden-esque situation. And considering Memphis’ vibes do not require that kind of energy, the lack of movement makes sense. The Grizzlies rotation is largely set, and the team will “re-acquire” the services of Dillon Brooks after the All-Star Break as he returns to get minutes with the team. They looked over the landscape and decided that they were not that in need of anything, compared to what the cost of doing “something” would have looked like.
Immaculate chemistry and youthful freedom of grander expectations...what a thing to enjoy.
The lack of a Culver move is a very minor “meh”
Culver is almost certainly not staying in Memphis. I have said here, there, and everywhere it would be in the best interest of the Grizzlies to acquire someone on a team-friendly deal heading in to next season and perhaps beyond as the team gets set to fully embrace being an NBA Finals contender, presumably this upcoming offseason. The loudest drum banged by this writer was for the versatile forward Kenrich Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a 6’7” facilitator who can both defend and has shown growth as a facilitator and shooter. Culver and a heavily protected 1st, or two 2nd round picks, was my hope.
That did not happen. And of course, the Grizzlies will not be impacted negatively because of it.
It was always about the rich getting richer. Quibbling over the 10th man in a rotation as deep as Memphis considering the wonderful season the Grizzlies are having would be silly. I would have moved Culver, but if the opportunity did not present itself in a way that made sense to Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman then so be it.
They’ve earned a lot more credit than that. One non-move for a player that would at best log 14-16 minutes a game for the Grizzlies doesn’t disrupt that.
How much better can they get from here to April?
The bet of the Memphis Grizzlies is now to focus on internal improvement through both health and reps together as the playoffs approach. They struggle in half court offense, and the lack of perimeter shooting from Steven Adams could impact them in the postseason (although the team that took advantage of that best recently, the Dallas Mavericks, traded their 7’3” lynchpin of that strategy before the deadline. Advantage - Grizzlies). They are in the bottom third of the NBA in three point shooting and free throw conversion percentage. If they want to make this magical regular season a playoff run to remember, they must improve in those areas.
The good news? They have time. And they have also shown the ability to grow as the season goes on each of the last two seasons.
The type of trade that may have helped in their areas of deficiency would have weakened what makes these Grizzlies great far too much. Combining the uniquely powerful, organic joy these players have being together with the fact that they’re already among the best in the NBA, as well as the reality that they’re also among the youngest teams in the NBA, all adds up to a calculated risk that more than likely will pay off.
Will that come in the form of a run to the Western Conference Finals? Or perhaps in further evidence as to what the team needs to take the next step to contender via trade or the draft this summer? Time will tell.
For now? The fun run of Ja Morant and these young Grizzlies continues.