Grizzlies Face Pivotal Point of Championship Window


The Memphis Grizzlies are in a rare spot.

They have a chance to be a true a championship contender whether they make a trade deadline move or not. So, why make the move?

The Grizzlies have three untradeable players in Desmond Bane, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.

2022-2023 Player Contracts (Team/Cap%)

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. – $28,946,605 (23.54%)
  • Steven Adams – $17,926,829 (14.58%)
  • Ja Morant – $12,119,440 (9.86%)
  • Brandon Clarke – $4,343,920 (3.53%)
  • Desmond Bane – $2,130,240 (1.73%)

Brandon Clarke, who just recently received an extension, has his contract referred to as a “poison pill”. In this scenario, the Grizzlies would be sending out $4,343,920 — Clarke’s current contract — while receiving $10,868,784 in return — Clarke’s current salary — plus the 50 million divided by the five years he’s under contract.

Trading BC does not make sense for the Grizzlies.

Steven Adams just signed a team-friendly extension, plus he’s injured. Oh, we forgot to mention that Stevo is Ja’s bodyguard and protector so he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The remaining players are beloved by the city, front office and teammates, but they are all on the table when it comes to being a trade asset.

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Who are the main trade assets?

2022-2023 Player Contracts (Team/Cap%)

Danny Green is a veteran shooter and solid defender but is 35 years old and coming off torn anterior and lateral cruciate ligaments in his left knee.

Dillon Brooks has been a key piece to this Memphis team with his defense being the strength of his play. However, his inefficiency has proven to be a negative in key spots for the Grizzlies.

Tyus Jones was the sole off-season free-agent signing. He continues to show his worth with his three-point shooting and has been a key to the team’s success so far.

The Under-Five-Million Club

2022-2023 Player Contracts (Team/Cap%)

These players all have potential to be in the rotation on a championship team, but if the team shrinks down the playoff roster, only two would be expected to see any playoff minutes. The low salary of each player really allows the Grizzlies flexibility to sign a key piece for the next three years.

Why make a move this year?

If the Grizzlies don’t make any trades by Thursday’s deadline, they would have 13 players under contract going into next season. The only two they would have off the roster would be Danny Green and Dillon Brooks, whose contracts expire after this season. Those two not being available also limits the Grizzlies’ ability to make salaries match in trades. This would limit them to the Jones $14 million salary as the only desirable trade piece. His contract expires after next season, so that loses a little value for teams looking for long-term help.

Draft picks are something we have to keep in mind as well. The Grizzlies have their first-round pick as well as two second-rounders in this year’s upcoming draft. If no players or picks are moved before that time, they would have 16 players under contract plus Vince Williams and Kenny Lofton Jr., who are on two-way contracts. It is unlikely but if this were to happen, the team would have 10 players making $5 million or less on their roster.

Teams can only supply 15 players plus two two-way players under contract, so a roster move would need to take place either way.

What type of move?

As stated earlier, the Grizzlies are in a special place where they are a championship contender whether they make a move or not. What they decide to do could affect their championship window, however. Often times, we see where a team’s championship window closes quicker than anyone realizes due to teams not making decisions for future outlook.

The Grizzlies have two options they could make as they approach Thursday’s deadline.

The team could consolidate some of their bench pieces in hopes to land a shot creator. This wouldn’t cost as much, but could be a key to helping them be a force in the playoffs. In the playoffs, the game usually becomes more of a half-court one and any addition of a shot creator strengthens any team.

The downside to a move like this could be the player obtained could be on an expiring contract. The longer it is, the more draft picks you will need to surrender within a trade.

The trade for a starter is a move some would consider the team going “all in.” This would require the Grizzlies to trade away players like Brooks, Green or Jones. As shared above, these players have salaries that other teams would want as well as the Grizzlies feeling comfortable moving on from.

Green is the easiest player to move on from due to his injury and lack of playing time labeling him with unknowns. He brings veteran leadership as much as he is an expiring salary for some teams.

Brooks is the longest-tenured Grizzlies player that embodies Memphis grit. If you move on from someone like Brooks, you have to replace him with another defensive-minded player.

Jones is a luxury to have backing up Ja Morant. He runs the bench like a well-oiled machine, but that is a regular-season type of player. When it comes to the playoffs, backup point guards don’t play more than 15 minutes a night. He has shown that he can knock down open three-point shots which allows the team to play him more alongside Ja.

Tyus could really have the most trade value for a team looking to solidify their starting point-guard position.

No Move?

If the front office decides to not make a move, they are squandering their real opportunity to add a key piece to this roster. This season, Morant is making $12.1 million and a ballooned $33.5 million for the 2023-2024 season. He goes from 9.86% to 20.89% of the team’s cap percentage.

2023-2024 Player Contracts (Team/Cap%)

  • Ja Morant – $33,500,000 (20.89%)
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. – $27,102,202 (16.9%)
  • Tyus Jones – $14,000,000 (8.73%)
  • Steven Adams – $12,600,000 (7.86%)
  • Brandon Clarke – $12,500,000 (7.79%)
  • Ziaire Williams – $4,810,200 (3.0%)
  • Desmond Bane – $3,845,083 (2.4%)
  • Jake LaRavia – $3,199,920 (2.0%)
  • David Roddy – $2,718,240 (1.69%)
  • John Konchar – $2,400,000 (1.5%)
  • Santi Aldama – $2,194,200 (1.37%)
  • Xavier Tillman – $1,930,681 (1.2%)
  • Kennedy Chandler – $1,719,864 (1.07%)

Let’s look far into the future now. Notice anyone missing for the 2024-2025 season?

2024-2025 Player Contracts (Team/Cap%)

  • Ja Morant – $36,180,000(24.55%)
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. – $25,257,798 (17.14%)
  • Steven Adams – $12,600,000 (8.55%)
  • Brandon Clarke – $12,500,000 (8.48%)
  • John Konchar – $6,165,000 (4.18%)
  • Ziaire Williams – $6,133,005 (4.16%)
  • Santi Aldama – $3,960,531 (2.69%)
  • Jake LaRavia – $3,352,680 (2.28%)
  • David Roddy – $2,847,240 (1.93%)
  • Kennedy Chandler – $2,019,699 (1.37%)

If you guessed the “Fly By King,” Desmond Bane, then you passed. We can assume that he will be somewhere in the middle between Jaren & Ja on the contract sheet. Those core pieces being under contract will allow them to pay Bane a sizable contract. So unless one of these young bench players exceeds their current role, this isn’t a championship team on paper. This two-to-three-year opportunity that is presenting itself to the Grizzlies cannot be overlooked.

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Taking advantage of the two-year window

The Grizzlies have the opportunity to add a key piece that fits this team over the next two seasons. It’s hard to envision them adding a starting-caliber player on an expiring contract. They already have that with Dillon Brooks. This means go ahead and rule out all starters who are on their last years of their deals.

Let’s rule out another set of players— any bench player on an expiring contract that makes more than $10 million. This front office already has Danny Green on an expiring deal for that and — ideally — gives them what they want in a playoff bench piece. A bench addition will come in the form of a player who has numerous years left on his contract. The Grizzlies will be reluctant to throw in a young player as salary filler.

The Grizzlies could stand pat with their current team, but would need to be able to sign Brooks or similar free agents in the off-season. Brooks will look to get around $18-20 million in the offseason and isn’t a desirable player for this team at that price.


The Grizzlies will look to be a third team in some trades where they could add a rotational player and draft picks. This would allow them to add playoff players to their championship-window team. This would open it the most right now.

If Memphis can’t become that third team, expect them to find a shot creator who can come off the bench and solidify their playoff unit. This would allow them to hold on to Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones, who they feel they can rely on as semi-veteran players.

A big swing can make or break this team. The culture runs deep, but doing a little moving and shaking shouldn’t affect it too much. The Memphis Grizzlies must figure out what direction makes them better that doesn’t shorten their championship window.

This team may not make moves at the trade deadline, but they are in a position to strike now.

So I beg of you… Let Kleiman Cook!

About Daniel Greer

Audio Director for The Lead Sports Media. Contributor for Grizz Lead & Bet The Lead. Host of the Grizz 901 podcast.

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