Where We Are Now
The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching, and the Memphis Grizzlies are in a tailspin. They currently sit inside of the bottom 8 bubble that would allow them to keep their first round draft pick this season instead of conveying it to the Boston Celtics – it would roll over to next year with a top 6 protection if it doesn’t convey this year.
With the recent injuries to Dillon Brooks (out for season) and Kyle Anderson (out 2-4 weeks), both the Grizzlies’ roster and their future is looking increasingly bleak.
The Grizzlies fell into a tanking situation last year with a season ending injury to Mike Conley fairly early into the year. This allowed Memphis to draft Jaren Jackson Jr., who should be the future of the franchise for the next decade and beyond.
Now comes the hard part. Memphis needs to build around their young superstar talent, but is hamstrung for the time being between the Chandler Parsons contract and the max deals that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are both in.
Chandler comes off the books after the 2019-20 season and that will greatly help Memphis, who has essentially been playing with 75% of their cap space for the last several years.
Mike will likely be with the team for two more seasons past this year. Marc Gasol could opt out of his contract this summer. These guys are both on the wrong side of thirty and by the time Jaren is in his prime, they might both be to the point of looking for vet minimum contracts.
I hate to say it, but if someone makes a call for Mike or Marc, Chris Wallace should at least pick up the phone. Once they are gone in a few years, if Memphis is unable to acquire anything for them now, then we will have wasted several years that could have been spent actively working through a rebuild. Memphis has it’s unicorn big man of the future, now it needs its Mike Conley replacement of the future. I don’t say this lightly because I know that Mike has been a part of so much for this franchise. Honestly the best case scenario is for him to get the chance to play for a competitive franchise and compete for a title. That would be the win-win situation for all.
There are two main ways that Memphis can rebuild their franchise to the perennial playoff team that it once was not that long ago.
- Draft young talent
- Trade for young talent
You might be asking why sign impact free agent isn’t option number three. Until Memphis proves that they have the capability to do that, I will not consider that a valid option.
We have discussed the draft situation some previously, and I’m sure it will be a hot topic in the future as well. But for tight now, let’s focus on option number 2, trade for young talent. Sometimes you can get a better price without having to give away the farm for a younger talent who doesn’t necessarily fit with the roster that he is currently with. It’s NBA trade rumor season and like many others, I have been experimenting with the NBA trade machine to see what – if anything- is possible, likely, or far fetched from a Memphis trade standpoint.
Polling the Fans
On Monday, Woj broke some news that the Dallas Mavericks are shopping their former first round pick from last year, point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. Woj cited some reasons around Smith and stud rookie Luka Doncic’s ability to play together for the logic behind the possibility of moving DSJ.
On paper, Smith could be a guy who could be your next franchise PG. Through a season and a half, he is averaging 14.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. His shooting efficiency has improved in his sophomore season and this season he is playing a tick under 28 minutes per game – a decrease from the 29.7 minutes per game that he logged last year.
Let’s take a look at the Mavericks. What does the team overall need? What are they looking to get in a potential transaction for Smith? Does Memphis have anything that would entice them
My first reaction was to conjure up some sort of trade involving sending Mike to Dallas in return for DSJ/Wes Matthews/Dwight Powell. Throw in JaMychal green to help Dallas replenish their roster spots and call it a day.
Why Memphis does this: You get a potential PG of the future and a consistent PF still under contract in Powell.
Why Dallas does this: You get a PG who can immediately come in and make an impact with your rising star and doesn’t mind playing off the ball, something that is clearly important based on the feedback I got from crowd sourcing this idea.
What Does Dallas Actually Think?
Since we are all armchair GM’s, I went on a little research trip and did some polling of Dallas fans online to see what exactly their takes were on Mike Conley and any potential DSJ to Memphis trade.
I posed the question as a two-parter:
- Does Mike Conley sound like a player that you would trade for? I thought about this with the DSJ rumors going around. Mike is an established borderline All-Star with a couple years left on his contract and is currently playing well in his first season back from injury.
- If yes to question 1, what would you give up for him?
Here are responses that I received from Dallas fans and my thoughts on some of their comments:
Prob not man, thats a big contract and a 31 year old PG.
Ok, this is very true.
Look at Houston and CP3. Hell no.
The Rockets might have played in the Finals last year if they had a healthy CP3, but I understand the reservation based off of past injuries.
For the numbers to work out, it would have to be Conley/Rabb for DSJ/Wes/Powell.
I don’t think that I would balk at this at all.
I wouldn’t want to give up that much for an aging PG that might not mesh with our best player, but it’s not the worst trade i’ve seen.
The troubling thing with Mike right now is the limited amount of touches that he is generating for Jaren Jackson, who happens to be the second best rookie in his class. There is a valid concern here that he might perform the same with the best rookie in the class. However, he would not have his running mate Marc to dominate the receiving end of his passes.
Hey OP, hope you don’t take the dismissiveness of some here as a shot @ Conley. I personally love the guy! Think he’s super underrated/slept on, esp in the convo of best PG’s in the game rn. Anyway, I think it might not be the best fit just because Luka will be running the point and we need more of a 2 guard than another PG.
I’m personally a big fan of Conley and wouldn’t mind having him on the team, but his contract is too expensive and he is too old for the state of our team. We’re a team trying to compete for the playoffs right now and he would help with that, but ideally we’d rather have a younger guy that can develop with Luka and our other young pieces, while still improving the team right now. Also, we plan to chase big names in free agency, and having his contract would hurt that plan. If we did do a trade, DSJ and Wes for Conley seems somewhat reasonable, but I can’t think of any great, mutually beneficial trades. What would your idea for a trade be?
Completely agree with this person on all the fronts. I was curious how much of the Dallas fan base was wanting to win now (0-3) years and how much was looking past that. I believe Conley would be able to help Dallas because he honestly plays just as good off the ball as with the ball in his hands – ideal if you are wanting Luka to play a point-forward.
I think there is a good amount of people that want to win now, I would love that also, but more realistically we’re still a while away. If we knew that we could get a big name in free agency, I wouldn’t mind making that trade because it would speed up the process of competing and Conley can be key piece on a contending team. Without knowing that though, we don’t get too much value out of Conley, past a few playoff appearances likely as a lower seed. I also agree he can fit well next to just about anyone though.
As for that proposal, I don’t think it too bad, but I would want something else small back besides just Conley. We would be giving up 3 contributing pieces of our rotation for 1 player.
This comment is what led me to add JaMychal Green to the deal in order to help Dallas replenish a roster spot.
I would take him. Only 2 more years of that contract, so we won’t be stuck with him if he declines. Luka gets to play in the playoffs right away. We can find a pg for the future later or develop Brunson into a starter. Best of all, he is the perfect pg to play with Luka, defends, shoots well, and doesn’t need the ball to be effective. This is only if we need to trade DSJ though, I would rather keep him.
I don’t think so. He’s way off the timeline
No I need a spot up 2 guard!!!
Conley for Wes and Dwight is probably the best you could hope for, which would probably be an underpay for Conley. Don’t think the Mavs would be willing to send Dennis to a division rival.
I think that is certainly an underpay. That doesn’t help Memphis move towards the future much unless cap space is your only concern.
I just think the main issue with Conley is that his contract is so bad that you’re going to have a hard time finding both cap relief AND young assets. Plus, Dallas is a division rival, so that makes any deal between the two franchises involving big pieces fairly unlikely.
Probably not, wouldn’t want to take on that big of a contract
I’m beginning to sense a trend here…
No. He’s been good, but he’s done nothing in his career really as far as getting a team into being a contender.
Nah. Conleys Age and Contract are two huge detractors. He doesn’t fit with Lukas timeline. We need a foundational piece that fits into that future (ideally).
Nobody wants to trade for Gasol or Conley.
I think there are teams that would trade for Conley, even with that terrible contract. Gasol is a harder sell.
DSJ for JJJ?
I couldn’t tell if this last guy was trolling or not.
It appears that the general consensus from the Dallas fans is that they (like Memphis) would like a player of the future to join their ranks. Also, most of the responses involved some level of desire to avoid Mike due to the size of his contract.
I think Mavs fans are thinking a little too highly of Smith if they think they are just going to flip him for another similar player who has a higher ceiling without giving up a pick of their own. Also, if Memphis were to be serious about DSJ, the uncertainty of the future of their first round pick might ultimately put them out of contention for the sophomore guard.