After a 12-5 start, the Grizzlies‘ season has taken an unfortunate turn, with the team having lost 17 of its last 23 games, including the last six in a row. Memphis is now tied for 13th in the West, 3.5 games back of the eighth seed, which creates an interesting dilemma for the organization as next month’s trade deadline nears.
The Grizzlies owe their 2019 first-round pick to the Celtics, but that pick is top-eight protected, meaning Memphis will hang onto it if it ends up at No. 8 or better. Currently, the Grizzlies are tied for the ninth-worst record in the NBA, as our reverse standings show. If Memphis’ struggles continue, it might be in the franchise’s best long-term interests to prioritize keeping its draft pick for next season rather than attempting to push for the No. 8 seed.
As David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays, general manager Chris Wallace was noncommittal when asked if the Grizzlies expect to convey that first-round pick to Boston this year or potentially keep it: “We’ll see where the season takes us at this point in time. We still have half a season to go. We’ll be prepared for either eventuality.”
Memphis is in a tough spot, since bottoming out and hanging onto that 2019 first-round pick wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that the team eventually sends the Celtics a less favorable pick. That first-rounder will become top-six protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021 if it’s not conveyed in ’19, Cobb notes.
Here’s more from Wallace on some of the issues facing the Grizzlies, via Cobb:
On whether acquiring Justin Holiday signals that the team remains in win-now mode:
“Absolutely. We paid the price of a couple second-round draft picks to do so, and we think Justin is going to be a very productive player for us on both ends of the floor. He can shoot the three, he can score in addition to shooting the three. He can handle the ball, and he can guard on the other end. He’s someone also who our research tells us is a very high-character, winning individual.”
On whether the Grizzlies are prioritizing winning in the short term or focusing on the long term:
“We’re trying to strike a middle ground of being as good as we can in the here and now and also preparing for the future and not sacrificing anything for the future as well. That’s how you would characterize us, as a team that’s got a foot on both sides of that conundrum. Trying to be good right now and also have an outstanding future as well. I think, obviously, with Jaren [Jackson Jr.] here, that gives us a bridge to the future.”
“Obviously, Chandler had done some interesting things as a player during his time in Houston and Dallas, and his skill-set fit what we needed. He was by far the best option at that time, so we took him. Unfortunately, he’s been injured since then, and it’s where we are today after those injuries.”