The Memphis Grizzlies have a few more days to make one more trade. This time, the Grizzlies front office has the freedom of chasing desired players, not just freeing up payroll. Since they don't have a great deal of space with which to work or many trade chips to use, they likely won't be making any big deals.
However, Chris Wallace and his compatriots can still improve the team's supporting cast with a couple of small trades. According to ESPN, the Grizzlies have a total of $7.5 million in trade exceptions.
As Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer tweeted, the Grizz could grab a nice contributor by using an exception.
Chris Herrington @HerringtonNBA
If used, could be one of two ways: To get a player to help now or to swallow a contract in exchange for an asset (prob 2nd rnd pick).2/9/2013, 1:08:11 AM
Pick Up the Preferred Three-Point Shooter
The Grizzlies desperately need help on the outside. They shoot fewer three-pointers than any other team in the league. When they do take long-range shots, they don't do well. They're 22nd in three-point percentage at 34.5 percent.
Four Grizz shooters take at least two per game, including the soon-to-be-active Quincy Pondexter. Pondexter's return will open things up, but they need another three-point shooter to make a difference.
Jodie Meeks would provide a crisp outside stroke for Memphis. Meeks has been underused by the Los Angeles Lakers this season but is shooting 37.6 percent from downtown. He has strong long-range sensibilities, taking 4.2 threes per game—a little more than two-thirds of his field-goal attempts.
Center the self
The Grizzlies might have plenty of size. However, the frontcourt is imbalanced. Memphis has five power forwards but only one center.
This situation caused Lionel Hollins to squabble. Hollins said (via The Commercial Appeal):
One of the issues that I have is that neither Darrell or Ed (Davis) are fives. We don't have another big guy. We weren't able to play big and have two bigger people across the board because we don't have a bigger guy to put in the game.
If Hollins still feels this way, the front office could appease him by acquiring a center with a trade exception. The market is aplomb with centers who have expiring contracts—cheap ones included.
The Grizzlies could try for seven-footers like Timofey Mozgov, Gustavo Ayon or Ryan Hollins. Hollins is a good shooter, hitting 59.7 percent from the field. While playing just 10.1 minutes per game, he compiles sound metrics, producing 111 points per 100 possessions and allowing 102 per 100.
Ayon would be ideal. He can pass, shoot and rebound. The Mexican center pulls down 8.8 rebounds per 36 minutes while playing just 13.6 per game for the Orlando Magic. Due to limited action, he's only had seven or more rebounds five times.
Last season, he had seven or more 17 times for the New Orleans Hornets.
Failing in an attempt to secure a big body before the deadline, the Grizzlies would be left thinking about how they could get Hamed Haddadi back.
Stand by Zach Randolph
Randolph had been rumored to be on the block. Then, Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien told The Commercial Appeal that they weren't trying to deal him.
That should be the end of it. After trading one star player, the Grizz don't need to ship another one. In all likelihood, that would both torpedo the team's playoff chances for the next couple of years and depress fans and players.
The Grizzlies' offense might run through Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, but its life-breath is Randolph. He's now the team's scoring leader, averaging 15.6 points per game. Also, the Grizzlies produce 5.4 more points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
Randolph's offensive rebounding is a game-changer. He is second in the NBA in offensive rebounds, pulling down 4.2 offensive rebounds per game. For a team that's 22nd in field-goal percentage, those second chances are invaluable.
Conclusion: Add little pieces without giving up anything significant
The Grizzlies can easily get a quality player by using a trade exception. Giving up a draft pick or the contract of Puerto Rican Ricky Sanchez may be the only other things required.
That would leave the Grizzlies' rotation safe from any more change. As Conley told Grantland, the team had a hard time adjusting after the Rudy Gay trade. Thus, further disruptions—especially notions of dealing Randolph—are unnecessary.
Adding a couple of small pieces represents the short bridge to rounding out this Western Conference contender.