Chances are that the Memphis Grizzlies will be relatively quiet as the NBA Trade Deadline approaches. After all, Memphis is the 3rd best team record-wise in the entire Association. Ja Morant is a top-5 or so candidate for the MVP award and is a lock for Most Improved Player (if the award goes in that direction). Jaren Jackson Jr. is playing the best defense of his career, and Desmond Bane has made a massive leap as a scorer. Grizzlies Coach Taylor Jenkins has done a masterful job establishing a standard of play for this young team, and more often than not they reach, and go beyond, that standard.
All for a roster that is one of the youngest in the entire league. So while there are needs (there are always ways to get better), if they’re not fully addressed it will not be the end of the world. Squads like Brooklyn, Phoenix, Golden State, and others have the clock ticking on their title window. Memphis’ has just begun to open.
Joining me in this edition of the Roundtable are GBB Associate Editor Parker Fleming, GBB Writer Justin Lewis, and Co-Host of the GBB Podcast Network’s The Starting 5, Tev Shakir.
Who is the absolute worst player you’d be willing to trade for that includes Desmond Bane as part of the package?
GBB SITE MANAGER JOE MULLINAX (@JoeMullinax) - If you had asked this question four months ago, you would have gotten a much different answer. Bane is undoubtedly the best value contract in the NBA, and Memphis has him on the rookie contract of the 30th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft for two more seasons. Once that runs out he will receive a hefty, and well-deserved raise. But until then, Bane’s worth to the Grizzlies is only below that of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Jaylen Brown is the answer now...I wouldn’t include him in a trade for Ben Simmons. You need Bane to maximize Simmons’ unique hypothetical fit on this team. That’s how important he is. Brown is an All-Star caliber player. Bane may be...but Brown’s two-way ability makes him the answer. A top-20 or so player in the NBA.
GBB ASSOCIATE EDITOR PARKER FLEMING (@PAKA_FLOCKA) - For starters, you’re an absolute monster for this. I mean, trading Bane would be like Sacramento trading Tyrese Haliburton. (Too soon, Kings fans?) I guess I’d use him in a potential Bradley Beal trade, since you may run into roster redundancy with them two, and it could help you keep a good perimeter stopper in Dillon Brooks. Nonetheless, Bane deserves to be in Jackson’s “99.7% untouchable” tier
GBB WRITER JUSTIN LEWIS (@J_Timberfake_) - Given the current contract and the fact that he’s already and elite shooter on track to be a CJ McCollum level impact player at worst, I’m in no hurry to trade him, not for any of the currently “available” players. Worst I’d accept is Jaylen Brown? I guess?
GBB PODCASTER TEV SHAKIR (@TevShakir) - The worst player I would be willing to trade Desmond Bane for would be Tobias Harris. Although his numbers are down from last season, Tobias is a very solid player who the Grizz could use at either forward spot. He is also entering his prime and could be the scoring forward we’d need to execute in crunch time.
Is there a player Memphis can realistically acquire by Thursday’s deadline that is better than Dillon Brooks?
MULLINAX - This question is the main argument (at least to me) in favor of being team #NoTrade entering the deadline. Dillon Brooks after the All-Star Break will be a sort of deadline acquisition all his own. While he won’t fix what ails the Grizzlies (if you can even say that about such a fun team) in terms of three point shooting and half court offense by himself, he will make life easier in those areas and also improve an already stout defense. With Domantas Sabonis and CJ McCollum already off the board, and James Harden/Jaylen Brown/Ben Simmons not being realistic...the only answer left is probably Jerami Grant. And his fit is questionable given reports of the money he wants in his next deal ($112 million!) and the idea he wants to be a main focal point in an offense.
FLEMING - No. Jerami Grant, maybe? But do you want to shell out assets to a 3rd, maybe 4th, guy who wants to be in a prominent role? Probably not. I’d likely take Dillon Brooks before Harrison Barnes, but that’s a game-by-game basis. And I also don’t see Sacramento dealing him after trading for Domantas Sabonis.
LEWIS - Yes. Jerami Grant is better. Harrison Barnes would be better for this team in terms of veteran leadership, versatility, and need for touches. Sabonis clearly could have been acquired and is better, but doesn’t fit.
SHAKIR - Depends on how you define “Better than Dillon Brooks”. Brooks is the type of player whose energy cannot be denied, especially in a city like Memphis. The plays he make defensively would have him with his teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. in All-Defensive team talks. Offensively, he continues to progress but can still be a wild card at times. If I were to trade Dillon, I would trade him for someone who could be more consistent offensively and still provide a defensive presence. The perfect player would be Jaylen Brown, respectively. If the Grizz can’t get someone who can make an impact on both ends, then the Grizz should realistically stand down.
What is the biggest need for the Grizzlies ahead of the deadline?
MULLINAX - For this Grizzlies team, it is more about “want” than “need”. They’re the best combination of youth and winning in the NBA right now. They have been beating the brakes off of people lately, and they’ve been doing all this without arguably their 4th best player in Brooks. As was mentioned above, the Memphis offense may struggle when the game slows down in the playoffs and those issues in the half-court are “worrisome” when looking at this team through that lens. Adding shot creation/shooting would be nice in that regard, as would adding more size in terms of a true big beyond Steven Adams. But those aren’t “needs”. GM Zach Kleiman can be opportunistic in terms of potential dealings. If he made no move whatsoever it would be perfectly OK. If they make a run to the Western Conference Finals this season is even more of a success and you “run it back” for the most part.
If they lose in the 1st or 2nd round? This season was still a massive success and it open the trade window more for the franchise this offseason. It is literally win-win all-around right now. So a trade would make Memphis better on paper...but the Grizzlies are already better than anyone anticipated. Nothing needs to be forced.
FLEMING - I’m going to be cheesy: opportunity. I want Zach Kleiman to channel his inner Edge… like the WWE superstar Edge — also known as the “ultimate opportunist” for his devious Money in the Bank cash-in’s on vulnerable champions (just YouTube this). But what could it look like? Swooping up Josh Hart from the tank-tastic Portland Trail Blazers that just acquired him? Make a cap-friendly deal for Washington by turning Culver, Anderson and a 1st into Kyle Kuzma? Saving Marvin Bagley from Sacramento with Culver and Tillman? Who knows. This trade deadline is throwing back whiskey and cokes, and Kleiman needs to soberly observe on how he can add depth without sacrificing the immaculate vibes.
LEWIS - A veteran. A guy that’s been in the trenches of playoff basketball. If you want to try and win it all, they need Jaylen Brown or Ben Simmons, but it’s fine to just need a vet to continue to grow.
SHAKIR - The biggest need for the Grizz would be veteran presence. Although the Grizz have the experience and chemistry of playing with one another for a few years, the oldest players on the team are Steven Adams and Kyle Anderson at 28. I think trading for or signing a player with experience could balance this team out. Trading for Paul Millsap or Harrison Barnes would be a nice pick up...but just imagine Jamal Crawford in a Grizz uniform.
Thank you to Justin, Parker, and Tev for joining me! What would be your answers to the Roundtable questions? Reply with your responses in the comments! And check out Part I of the GBB Roundtable on the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline, in case you missed it!