When Mike Conley went down with a heel injury in mid-November, so too did the Memphis Grizzlies’ chances of battling for a playoff spot in 2017-18.
The Grizzlies have since announced Conley will have season-ending surgery “to smooth a small bone protrusion in his left heel that continues to cause pain and soreness.” Meanwhile, Chandler Parsons has yet to play since late December due to ongoing soreness in his problematic right knee. It should come as no surprise, then, to see Memphis near the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 18-35, 1.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks’ league-worst record.
With little in the way of promising young talent on their roster, the Grizzlies should be open to an all-out fire-sale at the trade deadline.
According to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, Memphis has “fielded offers” for franchise center Marc Gasol, “but Grizz officials have been underwhelmed.” ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in January that teams were “curious to study Memphis’ plans” with Gasol, but at the time, the Grizzlies said they were “planning to keep him.” Since he’s under contract through 2018-19, they don’t have to move him byThursday, but if they received an offer that could kick-start a rebuild—particularly if desperation forces the Cleveland Cavaliers to dangle the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 unprotected first-round pick—they should take the bait.
The same can’t be said for Tyreke Evans, who will become an unrestricted free agent in July after signing a one-year, $3.3 million contract last summer.
The capped-out Grizzlies won’t have Bird rights for Evans, so they can’t exceed the salary cap to re-sign him. They can only retain him using their mid-level exception, which all other non-taxpaying teams will likewise have at their disposal. As such, they can’t feel secure about their chances to re-sign him this summer, making it more imperative to recoup some assets for him over the next 24 hours.
On Jan. 31, Wojnarowski reported trade discussions were intensifying for Evans, which caused the Grizzlies to begin sitting him out until they could reach a deal. On Tuesday, Woj named the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers as front-runners for his services, while the Miami Heat are reportedly sniffing around as well. Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated mentioned the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder as possible suitors, too.
Memphis reportedly hopes to net a first-round pick in exchange for Evans, per Wojnarowski, but that may be a difficult sell given his upcoming foray into free agency. The Celtics are reportedly dangling Marcus Smart to get a first-round pick that they would then flip for either Evans or Lou Williams, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, but Miami, Minnesota and OKC have each already dealt away their 2018 first-rounders in previous deals. If Memphis won’t settle for anything less than a first-round pick, Boston may be its best bet regardless of whether the Celtics can find a taker for Smart.