In December, we wrote a blurb with the headline: Appreciate the Memphis Grizzlies while you can
Well, did you? Because the end is coming faster than a De’Aaron Fox fastbreak.
Last year’s awful Memphis team flirted with pulling the plug; this time they’ve written their will and sent it to Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported on Tuesday that the front office is finally ready to take bids for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
We loved the resurgence from this team early on and so did everyone else, but this leaked announcement is, let’s be honest, about three years late. Since that 55-win 2014-15 season, they’ve been a .500 team with hobbled stars. In the short-term, they’ve won six times since Dec. 1. They’re 19-28 and 14th in the Western Conference.
Getting a jump on the rebuild and cashing in on their two aging stars is a no-brainer.
Gasol, who was born in Spain but has lived in Memphis since high school, has a $25.6 million option next season, which could make his trade value murky, depending on if he plans to exercise that final season; Conley will make $32 million next year and $34 million in 2020-21.
He turned 31 this past October, and would be a drastic overpay at that price, but would certainly be a nice luxury for any team with some cap space and no hope of landing a big-time free agent.
If you’re, say, Detroit, you might put some lipstick on Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond and see just how open to trading Conley Memphis really is.
Gasol, who is 34 next week, is a moody guy who got David Fizdale fired, but he’s also a crafty scorer, a decent defender for his age, an evolved shooter, and, if he’s willing to waive next year’s option, a definite commodity.
For Memphis, it’s about getting draft picks and young players to fit around Jaren Jackson Jr.
(The Grizzlies also owe Boston their first round pick if it doesn’t land in the top-eight.)
For Conley and Gasol, it’s about a few more cracks at a deep playoff run.
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