The Memphis Grizzlies are so close to being so good. With a young core of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson and Desmond Bane locked in place for the foreseeable future, the Grizzlies already have the bones of a potential contender in place. To graduate to that next level of eliteness, Memphis must find the right assembly of role players and co-stars to slot in alongside their star trio. Seemingly, Dillon Brooks, an ace defender and emotional tone-setter, was part of that mixture. But the Grizzlies have banished him, deciding that the his on-court doggedness was no longer worth the constant scrutiny and media attention he brings. As such, these are the offseason trade targets the Grizzlies should pursue that can help them reach the next level.

Alex Caruso

Without Brooks, the Grizzlies suddenly have a hole on the wing, lacking a guy who can match up with the league's best scorers. For all his faults, Brooks is an absolutely elite defender. He held All-Stars to a 45.7 percent effective field goal percentage, the stingiest mark of any player to guard an All-Star on more than 400 possessions throughout the year. To make a deep playoff run next year, the Grizzlies need to find a guy who can hold his own against Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James and the murderer's row of elite wing scorers in the West. Caruso can be that guy.

Despite being just 6-foot-5, Caruso is one of the best and most versatile defenders in the league. He improbably anchored a top-five defense in Chicago this season, alternately locking up on-ball superstars and defusing dangerous off-ball actions with his heady rotations and secondary rim protection. For the Grizzlies, he'd be the perfect trade target. He would form a devastating defensive duo with Jackson. The two of them could probably guard some of the NBA's offenses two-on-five, if needed.

While he would elevate Memphis' defense, he still wouldn't be an exact one-to-one replacement for Brooks. This would be mostly due to his offensive meekness and fragility. Whereas Brooks often hurt the Grizzlies offense with his overzealousness, adding Caruso in the offseason would present the opposite problem because he doesn't really do much of anything. When Caruso shares the court with Morant and a traditional center, it would be hard for Memphis to gin up enough shooting to let the offense truly sing. Similarly, Caruso's all-out defense makes him unfortunately injury prone. This year was his first mostly healthy year as he played 67 games. However, the Bulls carefully managed his minutes (he averaged just 23.5 minutes per game and started only 36 contests).

De'Andre Hunter

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While Brooks' problem was that he had too much dog in him, Hunter doesn't necessarily have enough. Despite brimming with natural talent, Hunter is all too content to hang out on the margins of the court. Hunter is way too gifted to be a stationary corner-3 specialist and solid off-ball defender. But that's mostly the role he filled in Atlanta. In Memphis, though, Hunter could evolve into the proto-Kawhi Leonard that the most optimistic predraft projections pegged him to become.

At 6-foot-8, Hunter is legitimately huge for a wing, able to envelop offensive players with his wingspan and quick feet. Hunter would inject Memphis with a jolt of wing athleticism, turning them into one of the NBA's most comprehensively huge and athletic teams. Acquiring Hunter would fundamentally turn the Grizzlies into a different, more normal team. He's the kind of wing that every team theoretically wants. But his whole has never matched the sum of his parts.

Paul George

If the Grizzlies really wanted to go all in during the offseason, George makes the most sense. The Grizzlies love to crow about how they're the NBA's next dynasty. But the inconvenient truth is that they don't quite have the top-end talent that the NBA's best teams usually boast. George would instantly remedy this. He's a star in any role. He's led teams to the playoffs as both the alpha on the Pacers and Kawhi Leonard's sidekick on the Clippers. With Morant, Desmond Bane, Jackson and George, the Grizzlies would have the deepest and most complementary foursome of any team since Kevin Durant left Golden State.

Granted, this deal is significantly less plausible than the other options since the ultrarich, ultra-ambitious Clippers don't seem likely to blow up a putative title contender this offseason unless George or Leonard force their way out. Even if George isn't likely, the Grizzlies have the assets to swoop in on the next superstar to demand a trade. They have five tradable first-round picks and a slew of promising young players to put together enticing trade offers.