NBA AM: Grizzlies Evaluating All Trade Options
The Memphis Grizzlies remain one of the Western Conference’s top five teams, but legitimate questions remain on whether the franchise as currently constructed has enough firepower to overtake the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs come playoff time in a seven-game series. The Grizzlies are also over the luxury tax threshold and under a new ownership regime, which has sparked rumors that a personnel shakeup may be on the horizon via the trade market.
California businessman Robert Pera’s bid to purchase the Grizzlies was unanimously approved by NBA owners last October and the franchise’s front office has undergone plenty of changes since that time.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, a holdover from the previous ownership group, says the new additions to the front office bring a diverse skill set and should pay immediate dividends for the team.
“This is the fourth time I have been gone through new ownership changes in my career so I am familiar with it,” Wallace told HOOPSWORLD. “We have got a young aggressive, hungry group led by Jason Levien and our new lead owner Robert Pera have come in and picked up John Hollinger, the statistical guru from ESPN, Stu Lash, who was with the Denver Nuggets and a player agent with Dan Fegan, so we got some new blood in the organization, new skill sets and I am excited to see how this plays out. Too excited to work with these individuals.”
New executives tend to produce roster shifts and to be clear with so many new faces in the organization in the decision making process the Grizzlies are definitely exploring all trade avenues around the league.
No one on the roster is considered untouchable.
The future of forwards Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph with the franchise has dominated the trade rumor circuit for the past few weeks. There are a significant number of teams around the league interested in the services Gay, who is owed $53 million through the 2015 season. Randolph is owed over $50 million during the same time period as well and has also been linked to multiple teams.
“We make it a policy not to publicly discuss things you see as far trade rumors, innuendos, speculation involving our players,” Wallace said. “So we really don’t have any comment.”
While Wallace was relatively tight-lipped on the job security of individual players as we approach the trade deadline, one point he said the organization is fully aware of is its position against the luxury tax threshold.
The Grizzlies currently have over $74 million in guaranteed salaries on the books this season. The number rises to $78 million for next season. Paying the luxury tax has been typically avoided by the Grizzlies.
“It’s too early to tell,” Wallace said on whether the team would look to add an additional player. “Our team is $4 million into the luxury tax right now too, so we have to be careful what we do in terms of bringing in new players. Right now, we are without our leading three-point shooter, and one of our more versatile swingmen Quincy Pondexter. He’s going to be out a little while with a knee injury. We definitely will be looking and aggressively evaluating this market, but it’s too early to tell if we will or not.”
The Grizzlies are taking all calls and exploring trade opportunities across the league. Most of the talks are exploratory as new ownership gauges the market value and takes inventory of its respective players.
The team is not in the midst of a massive salary dump. The organization believes it can compete amongst the elite in the Western Conference and if a deal arises which creates future financial flexibility but keeps the roster talent level in a strengthened position, then the team will explore the opportunity in full detail.
Check out HOOPSWORLD’s full interview with Wallace at the D-League showcase below.
John Jenkins Capitalizing On Playing Time Opportunity In Atlanta
Rookies who are drafted in the latter portion of the first round to playoff teams typically start their respective NBA careers glued to the bench behind established veterans on the depth chart as they learn the pro game.
But the grueling 82-game NBA regular season is a marathon and there are times when a head coach is forced to go deeper down his bench than normally inclined. Most of the time, the rookies forced into action play like rookies and are quickly jettisoned back to the end of the bench. But sometimes guys capitalize on their opportunity to play and remain in the rotation.
Hawks rookie guard John Jenkins spent the early portion of the season logging the typical “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” but injuries to guards Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow forced him into action and head coach Larry Drew has been impressed.
“We have been injured,” Drew told HOOPSWORLD on the reason Jenkins in getting an extended look. “Morrow’s been out and I’ve been a little shorthanded on the perimeter with Devin also being out. So it’s opened up playing opportunities and he’s made the most of it. He has really come in and opened my eyes.”
“I always felt if he had the opportunity he would take full advantage of it,” Drew added. “He’s a guy who can make shots when he’s out on the floor, very similar to [Hawks forward] Kyle Korver. When he’s out there you have to pay particular attention to him because he can make shots.”
Jenkins has seen his minutes steadily increase from three per game in November to nine per game in December to over 15 per night in January.
“I’m going to have to find some minutes for him,” Drew said. “I think he deserves it. I think he’s earned it. Hopefully he keeps getting better.”
Jenkins logged a career-high 25 minutes in Tuesday night’s loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves and has reached double figures in scoring in three out of his last six appearances.
Knicks Showing Interest In Kenyon Martin?
The New York Knicks have been thin in the frontcourt this season with newcomers Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace all missing significant time this season to various injuries.
In order to compensate and add depth to the lineup, Yahoo! Sports is reporting the team is considering bringing in veteran free agent forward Kenyon Martin.
Martin has surprisingly remained unsigned as questions on whether he’d take a veteran minimum deal and his locker room reputation have kept teams at bay.
For now, according to the report, Martin would consider playing on a 10-day contract with the Knicks to prove his commitment.
NBA Chats: There is one chat on the schedule today. Alex Kennedy will hold down his weekly chat at 3 p.m. EST. Get your questions in to Alex here.