The Memphis Grizzlies are back to the similar position they were in last season. The Grizzlies are at 32-19 despite the prolonged absence of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane at one point this season. Steven Adams is expected to miss 3-5 weeks, but Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman have been stepping up tremendously. Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant have both been selected for the 2023 NBA All-Star game, so there is not much negativity in the long-term outlook of Memphis.
Despite losing six out of their last seven contests, they still hold a substantial 2.5-game cushion over the third-seeded Sacramento Kings. Their team is still young, but they need one All-Star caliber wing or combo forward who can be in the closing lineup with Morant, Jackson Jr. Bane, and another wing. Kyle Kuzma, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Malik Beasley would be tremendous fits alongside Morant, but there’s one who fits better in Memphis: O.G. Anunoby.
The problem is similar with the 29 other teams is how high the Toronto Raptors value Anunoby, who is not even an All-Star player, but it has been reported that the Raptors want at least three first-round picks for him. Yes, he is on a team-friendly deal and a better option than Dillon Brooks in the closing unit, but the Grizzlies must not be too ambitious in their pursuit of OG Anunoby.
Grizzlies go too hard for OG Anunoby
In the podcast of Chris Haynes and Marc Stein, they both reported that the Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans are in a tug-of-war for Anunoby, and it seems more likely he will end up with one of these organizations by February 9. These organizations have the combination of young assets and draft capital to entice any team to let go of any of their critical stars.
There is no problem with trading for Anunoby, but giving into the demands of the Raptors of giving up at least three first-round picks does not seem reasonable. The returning package must include more than the picks because they will need salary fillers to complete the deal, so a combination of players like Danny Green, Dillon Brooks, or Ziaire Williams will be headed to Toronto.
The Grizzlies can release a couple of future protected picks because they still have all of it in their bag. That seems like it could be better, though, especially with the excellent track record of their front office of selecting a player that fits seamlessly in their system. The maximum draft capital to give up for Anunoby could be two first-rounders, along with Brooks and Green, but let’s see if Toronto would be willing to do that.
The challenge for Memphis is keeping all their core pieces when they are all due for a contract extension. Desmond Bane is still on his rookie deal until 2024, which is the primary reason they can add costly supplementary pieces, such as Steven Adams and Tyus Jones. Moreover, Memphis is known only to keep a few highly-paid guys, which might have been why they let go of two stellar players in De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson.
The window for a small-market franchise like Memphis to win with the current core is getting smaller, so the challenge is for them to execute the perfect time to acquire a star or superstar. Based on the rumored names on the market, no one would be an ideal fit in Memphis, so they must wait until the offseason, and someone like Pascal Siakam or Karl Anthony-Towns could be available.