Heat, Grizzlies Talk Mario Chalmers Trade

9:58pm: Chalmers said that he was unaware of any trade rumors regarding himself until he arrived at the arena for tonight’s game against the Hawks, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. “It definitely surprised me,” Chalmers said of the rumors. “But I also know it’s a business. I didn’t know anything until I got here today.

4:15pm: Some, presumably around the Grizzlies, have quietly expressed disappointment with what they see as Udrih’s lack of conditioning, athleticism and defense, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. The team’s general belief is that Smith isn’t yet ready to assume Udrih’s place in the rotation, Tillery adds.

2:44pm: Sources who spoke with Stein raised the possibility that Udrih could be included in a would-be deal, as Stein writes in a full story. The Grizzlies would have to give up another player to take in Chalmers, however, since Udrih only makes slighly more than $2.17MM this season, as Stein alludes to. The Grizzlies could only absorb 150% plus $100K of the salary they gave up.

2:00pm: The Jazz attempted to trade for Chalmers over the offseason, but the Heat didn’t take them up on it, a source recently told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).

1:06pm: The Heat and Grizzlies have talked about a potential trade that wound send Mario Chalmers to Memphis, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who cautions that no deal is imminent (Twitter links). The Heat are in line to pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they finish the season above the $84.74MM tax line, and rumors have persistently surrounded Chalmers, who makes $4.3MM on an expiring contract and ceded his starting job to Goran Dragic last season. Miami had seemingly tabled the idea of a Chalmers trade as of late August but weren’t ruling out a deal as soon as October, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported this summer.

Heat officials offered Chalmers in trades earlier this offseason with the tax in mind, one GM told Jackson (Twitter link), which jibes with reports from throughout the summer. Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com first reported in June that the Heat were shopping Chalmers, as well as Chris Andersen, in an effort to clear the way for a new deal with Dwyane Wade, though team president Pat Riley denied it. Still, ESPN colleague Zach Lowe heard soon after that Chalmers and Andersen were available “for nothing” in return, an indication that the team was simply looking to shed salary.

The Grizzlies, fresh off a 50-point loss Monday to the Warriors, have Mike Conley firmly entrenched at the point, though he, like Chalmers, is on an expiring contract. Beno Udrih is Conley’s backup, with Russ Smith the third point guard. Nick Calathes departed in free agency this past summer. They’re roughly $5MM shy of the tax line, so they could take in Chalmers’ salary, but they don’t have a trade exception large enough that would allow them to absorb Chalmers without sending salary in return. Their only contract without a fully guaranteed salary for this season belongs to JaMychal Green, and it carries a partial guarantee of $150K.

The sides could seek a third team to facilitate a swap that would allow the Heat not to have to take salary in return for Chalmers, though it’s unclear if that idea has come up in the talks between Miami and Memphis. Shedding the $4.3MM owed to Chalmers would lower Miami’s tax bill, but it wouldn’t eliminate it. The Heat have about $91.9MM in guaranteed salary as it counts toward the tax, so the Heat would still need to eliminate about $3MM to duck under the tax threshold. Andersen is on an expiring contract worth $5MM this year, but his name isn’t involved in the latest report.

Chalmers is averaging 6.7 points, 3.0 assists and 1.7 turnovers in 18.0 minutes per game in three regular season contests so far, figures that would extrapolate to one of the worst lines of his NBA career if the numbers held for the entire season. Still, he has a wealth of playoff experience, unlike Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, who are behind him on the depth chart, and offloading Chalmers without bringing in a comparable player would weaken the Heat as they seek to return to prominence this season, observes Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald.

The interest from Memphis would appear to indicate the Grizzlies want to upgrade their point guard depth, though Udrih has seemingly as well if not better than Chalmers has so far this season, averaging 6.5 points, 4.0 assists and 1.3 turnovers in 15.8 minutes per game. Chalmers could help their outside shooting, which Memphis has long lacked, but he shot just 29.4% from 3-point range last season, well beneath his 36.1% career accuracy from behind the arc.

Do you think the Grizzlies make sense as a trade destination for Chalmers? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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