To catch up with the Clippers old rivals, I asked five questions of Grizzly Bear Blues Editor in Chief Joe Mullinax, who provided some insightful answers on the Grizzlies’ youngsters and potential trades. Check out my responses to his questions over at GBB, and much thanks to Joe!
1. The Grizzlies have some incredibly fun and talented young players. Which of them do you think will be the best, taking both upside and likelihood of hitting that upside into account?
This may surprise some folks, but give me Jaren Jackson Jr. Ja Morant is a legitimate star, and will likely get the headlines through the (hopefully) exciting next era of good Grizzlies basketball that is (hopefully) coming. Yet his ceiling is limited defensively, whereas Jaren Jackson Jr’s...isn’t. Jaren is essentially a seven foot tall guard that can defend at least all three positions in the frontcourt and is currently shooting over 40% from beyond the arc. He has already attempted 74 more threes than he did in 59 games played last season in just 34 this season, and has made 36 more than he did in 2018-2019. If he played every game remaining in the season, he’s on pace to make roughly 200 threes and maybe also rack up 100 blocks.
No one has ever done that. Ever. And he turns 21 in September.
Will he do it? It’s unlikely. But the fact that it is possible is remarkable.
2. What would you like as a return from the Clippers for Andre Iguodala?
Ideally? A good young player (Landry Shamet, but that’s totally not happening), a 1st rounder (lightly protected), and cap filler. Memphis should be willing to waive someone (Josh Jackson, Solomon Hill) to make a 2 for 1 trade work. So if the Clippers offered Jerome Robinson, Mo Harkless, and a 1st? I would jump all over it. The priority is the pick. It is asset season - whether as ammo for future trade flexibility or just to get as many bites at the draft apple as possible, the Grizzlies should be trying to get as many “assets” as possible. I think Harkless/Robinson/a 1st is a great combo of what Memphis needs, plus helps the Clippers a LOT.
3. Are any of the Grizzlies other veteran wings (Jae Crowder, Kyle Anderson, Solomon Hill) playing well enough to help a championship contender on the wings?
Kyle Anderson absolutely could, especially one where pace isn’t as much of a concern. But even considering that, with Memphis playing as fast as they have in over a decade, Anderson is performing well and should be a “veteran” presence on a young team moving forward. He’s not untouchable by any means, but the Grizzlies would almost certainly be more than happy to move Hill or Crowder for a young prospect and/or a 2nd round pick (and almost any cap filler necessary, as long as it’s not longer than a 3-year deal). Hill has shot the ball well and defended every position between 3 and 5 for Memphis, and Crowder has struggled but would not be a starter for a title contending club. He’s outside his ideal role in Memphis and would improve elsewhere.
I’d imagine Crowder will be moved. Hill is less likely, but I also could see the Grizzlies waiving him (or Josh Jackson) if necessary to make a 2 for 1 or 3 for 2 trade for Crowder and/or Iguodala work.
4. How’s Taylor Jenkins doing in his first season as an NBA head coach?
Typical, to be honest. The Grizzlies offense has been awesome to watch, especially for a fan base that talked themselves in to being “in the mud” offensively during Grit and Grind (hey, it worked often and we loved those guys). Memphis is one of the best teams in the NBA at facilitating assists (2nd behind Phoenix heading in to Friday’s games, look it up if you don’t believe me) and they move the ball better than I think I have ever seen them do it. Yet their defense leaves a lot to be desired (still weird to say), and his rotations are very hit or miss. He relies far more on veterans like the aforementioned Crowder and Hill than he should with such a young team. Both Jae and Solo have more minutes played than Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton.
That’s unacceptable at this point. Hopefully it changes with the trade deadline approaching.
5. The Grizzlies are within reach of both the bottom of the conference and the 8th seed. Would you prefer they go for the playoffs or try to add another top pick to their core?
A lot of this has to do with dumb Jeff Green, who I know Clippers fans also hate.
Memphis still owes Boston a 1st round pick from that ill-fated deal from years ago. The selection is top-6 protected in 2020, meaning if it falls between 7-30 it heads to Boston. If the Grizzlies get a 1-6 spot in the lottery, the pick is theirs. Thanks to “winning the lottery” and getting Ja Morant at #2 overall (hey, Zion hasn’t played yet), the convey debate isn’t as heated as it was last year. In theory, this will be the worst season of the rebuild if things go the way they should. So a top-6 pick this year, to add to the core, and an unprotected 2021 selection to the Celtics shouldn’t be as valuable. But conveying the pick this year clears the ledger and allows for Memphis to utilize all the picks at their disposal for future trades.
Ja’s arrival makes it a win-win. But the key is to not change organizational course because the bottom of the Western Conference is awful. Trade Crowder and Hill. See if anyone wants Josh Jackson. Hell, if Atlanta offered a 1st rounder and Evan Turner for Jonas Valanciunas I would do it (Jaren is a long-term 5, most agree). Under no circumstances should a possible long-term asset be moved, unless something comes along that in and of itself could be a long-term asset (Malik Beasley, Shamet, Joe Harris, Bradley Beal...a guy can dream).
That’s the nice thing about this rebuild. If they win? Awesome. Go get swept by the Lakers and try to dunk on LeBron. If they lose? A 50% shot at Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, or LaMelo Ball next to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. the next decade would be pretty awesome to watch unfold.