The Memphis Grizzlies, after a tumultuous end to the 2022-23 season that saw them deal with the off-court troubles of Ja Morant, will be without their franchise point guard for at least the first 25 games of the 2023-24 regular season. With Morant out, one would think that the Grizzlies would lean on Tyus Jones, one of the best backup point guards in the league, to orchestrate the offense in his stead. Instead, the Grizzlies may be pivoting in another direction.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, the Grizzlies are “exploring trade opportunities” that would give Jones the opportunity to land a full-time starting job elsewhere. Fischer then added that the Grizzlies are looking to add to their wing depth, which may need an upgrade or two given the departure of Dillon Brooks.
While the team's interest in a replacement starting small forward for Brooks is understandable, acquiring someone who fits that mold at the cost of Tyus Jones is confounding, certainly so at first glance. Jones will be making just $14 million for next season, and given the uncertainty surrounding Ja Morant's situation, having his services at least gives the Grizzlies one less position to deal with this offseason.
After all, Morant would have to go through some strict measures for the league to allow him to play again, so having Jones as an insurance issue is far from the worst idea.
Alas, Tyus Jones' contract is expiring, and given his strong play as arguably the best backup point guard in the NBA — a near-guarantee to put up starter-quality numbers every time he steps up into the starting lineup — he may command a contract too expensive for the Grizzlies' taste come the 2024 offseason. Thus, cashing in on Jones' trade value to avoid losing him for nothing isn't a bad idea from an asset management point of view.
At first glance, it seems like teams such as the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Toronto Raptors could make a run for Jones, given their need for a point guard. Nevertheless, it still feels like keeping Jones may be the Grizzlies' best shot at remaining a rock-solid playoff-caliber team amid Ja Morant's early-season absence.