Trade Targets Mailbag, Part 2: 6 trade targets that bolster Grizzlies’ title chances

Feb 3, 2023 - 12:15 AM
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Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies are in a slump right now. They’ve lost 6 of their past 7 games, after winning 11 games in a row to end 2022 and start 2023. Their outside shooting has gone missing, and they aren’t playing with the swagger we’ve been used to seeing from the them.

With the trade deadline next week, and the struggles looming with the Grizzlies, there’s been more and more clamor for a trade. Over the past couple weeks, the Grizzlies have veered from a team that probably wouldn’t make a move, to one with a higher probably of making a move.

Any move they make will be to bolster their championship odds in a wide-open Western Conference. DraftKings Sportsbook gives them +1200 odds (8th-best) to win it all and +450 odds to win the West (tied for 2nd-best with Golden State and the Clippers).

I had 60+ trade targets sent to me, and dove into the likelihood of them earlier this week. I narrowed down 6 players of these 63 suggestions that could be realistic trade targets and needle-movers in their championship odds.

Memphis Grizzlies v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Gary Trent Jr.

Why it could/should happen:

Of all the players in the mysterious Toronto Raptors’ deadline plans, Gary Trent Jr. is the most available. It’s hard not to be intrigued by him. Only 24 years old, he’s developed into a great complementary scorer — 17.4 points on 38.1% shooting with 7.5 attempts per game in his last 3 seasons.

Trent has shown he can fit next to star players, as he’s shooting 39.6% on catch-and-shoot 3’s. He’s also a formidable defender, as he’s generating 1.8 steals (96th percentile) and 3.1 (85th percentile) deflections per 75 possessions — per The B-Ball Index.

The price has become a first-round pick or two good second-round picks, and the Grizzlies have the goods to do this without giving up Dillon Brooks or Ziaire Williams. He can be a pure 6th-man bucket-getter, an ideal spot for both him and the Grizzlies.

Why it couldn’t/shouldn’t happen: Trent isn’t much of a playmaker, averaging 1.6 assists this season.

The only thing really stopping me with Trent here is his free agency. He has a player option for next season, and could hit free agency this offseason. He’s expecting a deal in the same ballpark as Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole, probably won’t happen, but $20M annually is in play. I’m just not too sure the Grizzlies want to deal with his possible free agency, especially with Dillon Brooks hitting unrestricted free agency as well.

What it’d take (fit and financially): Danny Green, Jake LaRavia, Timberwolves 2023 second-rounder, Raptors 2024 second-rounder for Gary Trent Jr. I see other teams trumping this offer.

Detroit Pistons v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Bojan Bogdanovic

Why it could/should happen: Bojan Bogdanovic is one of the true gems in this trade deadline, a real needle-moving player in a seismic deal in the open NBA.

Bogdanovic is a prolific shooter 6’8”, 41.6% from 3 on 5.9 attempts per game. Within most schemes, he’s an ideal floor spacer — 47.1% on catch-and-shoot 3’s and 42.5% on corner 3’s, per The B-Ball Index.

He’s also more than a shooter, as only 40.2% of his field goal attempts are 3’s, and 28% of his shots come in the floater zone — 50% accuracy, 92nd percentile in frequency and 93rd in accuracy. He also averages 2.7 assists per game as well, a solid number for a stretch-4 forward.

He’d be the ideal fit next to a Morant, Bane, Brooks, and Jackson lineup — and for more reasons than him being a Taylor Jenkins doppelgänger. He’s the floor spacer that can help launch this team to a championship.

Why it couldn’t/shouldn’t happen: There’s not a thing in his game that moves him away from being a trade target. He can shoot, find scoring opportunities inside, and can toggle between the 3 and the 4. To nitpick, he doesn’t rebound well for his size (3.7), and he doesn’t have the footspeed to defend on the perimeter.

More importantly, the Grizzlies don’t have the goods to make a deal. Detroit doesn't want to give him up. I don’t see the Grizzlies giving up an unprotected pick or pushing the chips in with more, nor do I see the Pistons wanting picks in the 20’s for Bogdanovic. They also can barely make the salaries work for matching purposes, likely draining the wing rotation and leaving this team with 2 open roster spots.

It’s just more likely Detroit keeps him around. Veterans are important for rebuilds.

What it’d take (fit and financially): Danny Green, Ziaire Williams, 1 smaller contract (Tillman, Konchar, Roddy or LaRavia), Warriors’ 2024 1st (top-4 protected) for Bojan Bogdanovic. I don’t see Memphis doing this.

Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Why it could/should happen: Bogdan Bogdanovic is a name out of left field, and The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that “half the league” is calling about him.

The Grizzlies should be one of those teams.

He’s averaging 15.5 points and 3.3 assists this season, and with his size (6’6”), he could be a somewhat big creator to add more shot prowess off the bench. Bogdanovic has also hit 41.9% on pull-up 3’s, per The B-Ball Index. He’s fallen in the 85th percentile or better in 5 of his 6 seasons on mid-range accuracy — 48% accuracy this season, per Cleaning the Glass. He’s also a near 60-40 split on assisted-to-unassisted shots as well.

Bogdanovic can also fit next to Ja, Bane, and Jackson with his outside shooting. He’s shot 38.5% from 3 on 7.4 attempts the past 4 seasons, and he’s shooting 37.4% this season.

When it comes to a blend of outside shooting and shot creation, there aren’t many targets out there better than Bogdanovic.

Why it couldn’t/shouldn’t happen: While he played plenty of playoff moments with Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, it’d be fair to suspect his defensive fit with Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. Perhaps it’s encouraging he could do so. He has good size, but I don’t want to give defenses another player to target in the pick-and-roll.

Bogdanovic is also 30 years old, coming off an offseason knee injury this past summer, and has a player option next season. In addition, his salary is at $18M, which makes it harder to salary-match. He’s not really out there anyways, as Amick also reported the Hawks’ disinterest in moving him, and they would want immediate contributors to their playoff chances in any sort of trade.

What it’d take (fit and financially): Danny Green, Ziaire Williams, 1 smaller contract (Tillman, Konchar, Roddy or LaRavia), second-round pick for Bogdan Bogdanovic. I don’t see Memphis doing this, and I don’t see Atlanta doing this. It doesn’t make sense for both parties, unfortunately.

Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Malik Beasley

Why it could/should happen: The Memphis Grizzlies need shooting, and Malik Beasley can shoot with the best of them. Over the past 5 seasons, he’s shooting 38.3% on 6.9 attempts per game — while also being 1 of 2 players that have shot 2000+ 3’s without starting 100 games in that span. His numbers are down this season, as he’s shooting 36.2% from 3 on 8.5 attempts per game, but the sheer volume of 3’s would bolster this team’s perimeter defense.

Though he struggled the rest of the series, the Grizzlies got a good glimpse of how his shooting can propel them to a win in the playoffs, when he scored 23 points and hit 4 of his 10 three’s in Game 1 of the Memphis-Minnesota series. That’s the kind of player this team is missing, and the price tag doesn’t even seem insane.

The Jazz want a first-round pick for Beasley, and the Grizzlies have a surplus of them. Danny Green with a salary around $2M (Xavier Tillman, Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, or John Konchar) is a solid package with a first-round pick — I’m suggesting Memphis’ own 2024 pick lottery-protected. The Grizzlies would then have a wing rotation of Bane, Brooks, Beasley, and Williams. Adding Beasley as the 8th man in the playoff rotation could be enough to bolster the Grizzlies’ title chances.

Why it couldn’t/shouldn’t happen:

He doesn’t generate defensive events, and he’s not a great defender, boasting a negative defensive box plus/minus (DPBM) in each season of his career. It could phase him out of big playoff spots. He didn’t crack the 20-minute threshold in the last 3 games last postseason, and his +/- was worse than -20 in games 2 and 3.

Beasley’s also not a playmaker either — averaging 1.5 assists, while falling in the 18th percentile in assist-to-usage ratio (0.46, per Cleaning the Glass). The Grizzlies may seek an opportunity for a better playmaker, if they want to make a trade at all.

Also, the Jazz have talked about making Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt a package deal for a 1st-round pick, and I don’t see Vanderbilt’s fit here beyond the Tillman “emergency big” role.

What it’d take (fit and financially): Danny Green, Xavier Tillman or John Konchar, Grizzlies’ 2024 1st (lottery-protected) for Malik Beasley. I think there might be something here. Grizzlies get a bench scorer, and the Jazz get cost-controlled assets and a 1st-round pick. Grizzlies use open roster spot on Gorgui Dieng, Cody Zeller, or another buyout center.

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Josh Hart

Why it could/should happen: Josh Hart is a winning player on a great contract with a player option for $12.9M next season. The Blazers also have him on the trade block.

His contributions on the glass are most prolific. Averaging 8.1 rebounds per game, Hart is the best wing/guard rebounder in the game. That aspect of his game could be an aspect in lineups without Adams.

He’s also a great playmaker and connector, as he averages 4.1 assists per game. In the Grizzlies’ system predicated around ball-movement, he fits the bill for the offense.

These two elements of his game, as well as his size (6’5”, 215 pounds), make him a malleable fit in any lineups. He can realistically play on either wing position, while taking on responsibilities of a traditional 4 with his rebounding.

Hart is basically an amplified John Konchar with his playmaking and rebounding, and he’d be the 8th man in the rotation.

Why it couldn’t/shouldn’t happen: While Hart would be a solid piece in the rotation, one that could contribute in the playoffs, he has flaws in his game that don’t make him an absolute needle-mover in any trade.

He’s a mediocre, reluctant shooter — 31.6% from 3 on 2 attempts per game. He’s shown he can let it fly, as he shot 4.2 three’s per game (34.7% accuracy) in his career prior to this season. Is he not shooting more 3’s because he’s sharing the floor with Damian Lillard, Anfrenee Simons, and Jerami Grant? It’s fair to suggest.

He also doesn’t generate many defensive events, as he’s in the 69th percentile in steal percentage (1.4%) and the 22nd percentile in block percentage (0.3%) — for reference, Konchar’s ranks in the 51st and 86th percentile.

Given the price the Blazers would want (likely an immediate postseason contributor), Hart is not the best option for a trade.

What it’d take (fit and financially): Danny Green, Grizzlies’ 2024 1st (lottery-protected) for Josh Hart. This framework is interesting, but I see the Blazers wanting more of a contributor to this season’s play-in run, and I wouldn’t do a Brooks-for-Hart swap without a pick coming in. Nor would the Grizzlies.

Memphis Grizzlies v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

OG Anunoby

Why it could/should happen: It could, or should, happen because it’s one of the only “big fish” targets that actually make sense for the Grizzlies. Since Zach Kleiman took over, he’s sought the “big wing.” He traded for Justise Winslow, took a flier on Jarrett Culver, and drafted players like Ziaire Williams, Jake LaRavia, and David Roddy. It hasn’t panned out — though too early on the rookies and Williams, health struck Winslow, and Culver was a stretch and free shot — but the leap from Desmond Bane has eased the need for one.

Nonetheless, the pursuit is still on for a big wing to slot with Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. OG Anunoby fits the bill, and antennas definitely go off when the possibility of OG/Memphis is discussed on national network — though the Grizzlies’ front office more often remains quiet.

At 6’7” and 250 pounds, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the basketball, and one of the true cases of “can defend all 5 positions” we have in this league. He’s leading the league in steals per game (2.1) and total steals (93). He’s also in the 97th percentile in real adjusted turnover rate (0.88), per The B-Ball Index. He gives the Grizzlies another perimeter stopper in situations with multiple perimeter attackers, as well as another sizable defender in smaller situations with Jackson at the 5.

Offensively, he should theoretically help the Grizzlies shooting woes. He’s shooting 44% on corner 3’s, and has shot better than 40% on this area in 5 of his 6 seasons. He’s also shooting 39.6% on catch-and-shoot 3’s. He’s also a deft cutter, scoring 1.57 PPP off cuts (92.5 percentile, per Synergy) — which should work perfectly with Morant and Adams.

Slotting him in a lineup with those 3 players and 1 of Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams, or Brandon Clarke — and you get something incredibly formidable in the playoffs. He’s the one player on the trade market that can move the needle for the Grizzlies’ championship hopes, both now and for the next several years.

I’m sure the package will be bigger, but worth noting: the Raptors have a past of trading for players they want to sign in free agency. Do the Raptors want to bring Dillon Brooks home, while seeing him as a cheaper alternative to Anunoby?

Why it couldn’t/shouldn’t happen: Any skepticism comes at the price. The rumor out there is it could take 3 first-round picks. Inflation is crazy, am I right? The price seems high for a player that’s never been an All-Star. However, teams in the mix — New Orleans, New York, Indiana, Phoenix, and frankly Memphis — have the surplus draft capital to overpay for him.

Yes, the Grizzlies would still have draft picks in the event they move 3 picks for him. However, the Stepien Rule of trading picks in consecutive drafts hinders them from making another in-season move down the road.

But is OG Anunoby the player you want to push the chips for?

Despite his defensive brilliance and his outside shooting, if you’re wanting shot creation in the Grizzlies’ “big fish” move, Anunoby is not him. He’s in the 17th percentile in efficiency as a pick-and-roll ball-handler (0.64 PPP) and in the 9th percentile as an isolation scorer (8.8).

Granted, you’re probably not sacrificing a shot-creator in this deal, but why send the “all in, 3 picks” package for someone who’s an inefficient creator?

Where I really see the Grizzlies straying away from a deal is the price. While including Green seems inevitable in their first offer, I don’t see them throwing in Ziaire Williams along with two or three first-round picks. There’s a lot of investment and hopes in Williams and their development system. While OG is an upgrade, and would likely be better than Williams or those picks, it’s a calculated risk the Grizzlies will cautiously measure. They may not deem the trade worth it, given the price. Or they see it as the move.

If all else fails, maybe the Grizzlies use the Anunoby talks to catapult to the forefront of a possible Pascal Siakam trade sweepstakes in the next 12-18 months.

What it’d take (fit and financially): Danny Green or Dillon Brooks, Ziaire Williams, Warriors’ 2024 1st (top-4 protected), 2025 lottery-protected 1st round pick for OG Anunoby. It’s a great offer, but teams with more draft picks (NOLA or New York) can overpay even more, especially with their combination of young prospects and salaries as well.

The Memphis Grizzlies may very well not make a trade. They’re 2nd in the Western Conference at this point, and they may not like the opportunity cost of making a deal in an inflated market with no real sellers.

I’m in the “cool if they do, cool if they don’t” territory.

They may feel they’ll bust out of a shooting slump and rekindle their mojo and winning ways. It’s highly possible — after all they won 11 games in a row prior to this slump.

However, the trade deadline is a chance for this struggling team to reload in a wide-open Western Conference and bolster their title odds. Now we just wait and see if there’s a move to be made from Zach Kleiman and company.

My personal rank of these 6 targets — based off trade packages, talent, and fit: Malik Beasley, OG Anunoby, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Gary Trent Jr., Josh Hart.

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