The Memphis Grizzlies are currently one of the youngest franchises in the NBA. This team was established in 1996 as the Vancouver Grizzlies as part of the NBA’s expansion to Canada at that time.
The Grizzlies have not exactly found unparalleled success during their tenure, but they have gotten (relatively) close. Either way, their front-office moves have played a huge role in their rise, and below are our top Grizzlies trades in franchise history.
5. Jason Williams (2001)
Traded from the Sacramento Kings with Nick Anderson to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Mike Bibby and Brent Price.
Jason Williams emerged as one of the top playmakers in the league in the early 2000s, and this was thanks in large part to his flashy style of play. He pretty much invented some insane passes during his heyday, and more than a few folks would agree that Williams had the best stint of his career while with the Grizzlies.
Losing Mike Bibby turned out to be a huge blow for the Grizzlies, and there’s no denying that this detail serves as a bit of a downer in this particular transaction. Nevertheless, the acquisition of Williams makes it all worthwhile.
In four-plus seasons with the Grizzlies, Williams averaged 11.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.3 steals, as he helped the team to their first-ever playoff appearance in 2004. He ranks third overall in Grizzlies franchise history with 2,069 assists.
4. Rudy Gay (2006)
Traded from the Houston Rockets with Stromile Swift for Shane Battier.
Rudy Gay established himself as one of the most potent scorers in the league, and he did so during his time with the Grizzlies. Selected eighth overall in 2006 by the Houston Rockets, it was not long until Gay made his way to Memphis.
The 6-foot-8 forward spent the first six and a half years of his career with the Grizzlies, as he put up averages of 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals. Playing alongside star big man Zach Randolph (more on him later), Gay helped the Grizzlies reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 2011.
3. Pau Gasol (2001)
Traded from the Atlanta Hawks with Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Jamaal Tinsley.
When talking about the greatest Grizzlies players of all time, one cannot leave Pau Gasol off the list. Then the Vancouver Grizzlies, their front office struck gold when they secured a draft-day trade with the Atlanta Hawks that centered around a 21-year-old Gasol. The Grizzlies had to part ways with one of their best players in Shareef Abdur-Rahim in order to get Gasol to Vancouver, and it was an undeniably huge risk for them.
It was not long until Gasol proved their decision right, making a huge splash in the league in his debut campaign en route to bagging Rookie of the Year. By his fifth year, the 7-foot big man made his All-Star debut. Ironically, the Grizzlies traded away Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers not long after in a deal that would bring his younger brother, Marc Gasol, to town.
2. Marc Gasol (2008)
Traded from the Los Angeles Lakers with Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, a first-round pick, and a future first-round pick for Pau Gasol and a future second-round pick.
Losing a premier big man in Pau Gasol was inevitable for a small-market team like the Grizzlies. True enough, Pau would go on to do great things with the Lakers, winning two titles alongside the late, great Kobe Bryant.
For the Grizzlies, they were able to successfully cash in on Pau by acquiring the rights to his brother, Marc. It wasn’t until the next season that the younger Gasol was able to make his debut for the Grizzlies, but he quickly proved that he was very much worth the wait (and the trade).
This marked the start of a new era for the franchise, with Gasol emerging as the team’s cornerstone big man. The Spaniard spent a decade with the Grizzlies, making three All-Star appearances in the process. In 2013, Gasol led the Grizzlies to their first-ever trip to the Western Conference Finals. He won Defensive Player of the Year that same year.
Gasol is the franchise leader in minutes played, field goals made, free throws made, rebounds, blocks, and triple-doubles. He ranks second overall in assists and points. The only reason this trade isn’t No. 1 is because it was Pau Gasol leaving.
1. Zach Randolph (2009)
Traded from the Los Angeles Clippers for Quentin Richardson.
Would it be wrong to say that Zach Randolph is the greatest Grizzly of all time? While some might argue about this notion, with with the Gasol and Mike Conley representing the biggest challengers, there’s no denying that he should be right up there with the best of them. This being the case, we had to rank the Grizzlies’ 2009 coup of Randolph as the best trade in franchise history.
The Grizzlies made quite a splash when they acquired Randolph in 2009, who was in his prime at that time. The arrival of Randolph formed the tremendous trifecta of himself, Gasol, and another all-time Grizzlies great in Mike Conley. Together, this trio led the team to the golden era — so to speak — of the Grizzlies, making seven consecutive playoff appearances.
Randolph scored 9,261 points in his Grizzlies career, which ranks third next only to Conley and Marc Gasol. His 5,612 career rebounds with the franchise rank second overall behind Gasol.