What Small-Forward Trades or Free Agents Fit for Memphis?


With the unconfirmed — but believable — report that Dillon Brooks will not be back with the Memphis Grizzlies, the hunt for that ever elusive small forward for Memphis begins.

Whether it is through the trade market or free agency, the Grizzlies’ front office can no longer play two timelines, attempting to develop while contending at the same time. Memphis GM Zach Kleiman claims they are going all in this summer and if trade-deadline reports are true, you should believe him.

The front office will do their due diligence in regards to the best fit next to Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., but they are going to have get creative.

The Assets

Nothing and no one should be off the table for the Grizzlies to move in favor of the right piece, outside their big three of course.

Memphis has eight first-round draft picks from now until 2029 and six second-round choices. This includes the previously-coveted 2024 Golden State first-rounder.

The Grizzlies should get ready to offer their 2023, GSW 2024 and their 2025 at a minimum for the type of player they need to bring back.

As far as players go, often times front offices look at contracts without a player’s name even attached to it when it comes to trades. It matters. Heading into next season, Tyus Jones is the only expiring contract Memphis has at $14 million. Jones is also a starter-level point guard and the most valuable trade asset for Memphis.

Steven Adams has a tradeable salary with two years/$25.2M remaining on his deal and while he was valuable on the floor for Memphis, should not assume Memphis is married to him for the duration of that deal.

Theoretically, Dillon Brooks is available for a sign-and-trade deal somewhere and if it gets him the most money— surely the two sides will cooperate.

While Luke Kennard is a perfect fit in Memphis, he is not completely off limits and neither is Brandon Clarke. Any of Ziaire Williams, Santi Aldama, David Roddy, Jake LaRavia or John Konchar would be shipped next day air for the right deal.

So what are the options for Memphis?

Plan A

Circling back with the Brooklyn Nets about Mikal Bridges should be the first stop on this journey. It should also be an oft-visited destination for Zach Kleiman as the market unfolds around draft time. The Nets turned down their rumored offer of four first-round picks the first time, so can Memphis sweeten the pot?

Memphis Receives:

  • Mikal Bridges

Brooklyn Receives:

  • Tyus Jones
  • Ziaire Williams
  • MEM 2023, 2025, 2027 first-round picks
  • GSW 2024 first-round pick

Honestly, Brooklyn likely still says no, but it is a starting ground for conversations. Pick swaps and second-round picks to sweeten the pot might be needed, but the young talent pool for Memphis is not as highly valued by other organizations.

Plan B

The Grizzlies were also connected — at least through the media — to Toronto’s OG Anunoby. With Nick Nurse out as the Raptors’ coach and the disappointing 2022-23 season, it is rumored that a fire sale is on the way. With Fred VanVleet possibly declining his player option to hit free agency, the Raptors will be on the hunt for a new point guard.

Look no further than Tyus Jones!

Toronto Receives:

  • Tyus Jones
  • Ziaire Williams
  • MEM 2023, 2027 first-round picks
  • GSW 2024 first-round pick

OG probably snags just under the package Mikal Bridges will bring the Nets, but they could be close. Memphis could start with one less pick in the conversation but Masai Ujiri loves to play hardball.

Plan C

If Memphis strikes out or does not want to pay the price for Bridges or OG, Kleiman should call Brooklyn back for a different deal. The money with this deal would get tricky and could cause the involvement of Brandon Clarke or Steven Adams or even a Dillon Brooks sign-and-trade, but Memphis bringing back a duo of Dorian Finney-Smith and Cameron Johnson would be extremely valuable.

Finney-Smith would be that wing defender that could spot up and play within a role. The Dallas defense fell off significantly after he was sent in the Kyrie Irving trade.

If you move Adams, Jaren Jackson Jr. could slide over to the five full time and Johnson could start alongside him.

Plan D

If the trade market comes up empty, there are some free agents worth kicking the tires on:

  • Khris Middleton – 32 years old (player option w/ Bird rights)
  • Harrison Barnes – 31 years old (unrestricted)
  • Jerami Grant – 30 years old (unrestricted)
  • Gary Trent Jr. – 24 years old (player option w/ Bird rights)
  • Kyle Kuzma – 28 years old (player option, no Bird rights)
  • TJ Warren – 30 years old (unrestricted)

Middleton is likely to opt-in but Trent Jr and Kuzma would both benefit from declining their options and hitting the open market. They are the two youngest of the options listed above and provide a scoring punch that the Grizzlies need. None on the list are lockdown defenders, but those are not ever available in excess.

*Disclaimer* Had Memphis not gone through the PR nightmare they did this season, it might be worth kicking the tires on Miles Bridges for cheap, but I am not sure he will be an option for many teams this offseason.

Ultimately, will Zach Kleiman do what it takes to bring in that missing piece that will make Memphis a true contender? What exactly is that missing piece? Watch for the Grizzlies to be major players around the draft.

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