Grizzlies Notes: Trade Deadline, Rajakovic, J. Brown

The Grizzlies have been one of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises so far this season. Despite missing star guard Ja Morant for nearly a third of their games, the Grizzlies have a 28-14 record, good for fourth in the Western Conference. Memphis has a five-game cushion on the No. 5 Mavericks and is currently riding a nine-game winning streak.

Although the Grizzlies’ success makes them a candidate to be a buyer at the trade deadline next month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on NBA Today on Monday that he doesn’t expect the club to take a big swing.

“They love this roster right now,” Wojnarowski said (video link). “I think it would take a pretty unique opportunity for them to do anything dramatic. There’s always some things around the edges.”

As Woj points out, the Grizzlies may be better positioned to do something more significant in the offseason, when they could have approximately $20MM in cap room and as many as three first-round picks — in addition to their own first-rounder, they control Utah’s pick (top-six protected) and the Lakers’ selection (top-10 protected).

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Assistant coach Darko Rajakovic will serve as the Grizzlies’ acting head coach on Tuesday night vs. Golden State, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). With Taylor Jenkins and Rajakovic both in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, assistant Brad Jones filled in as the acting head coach for one game on Saturday. Rajakovic has since cleared the protocols.
  • Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian considers how the Grizzlies should approach the trade deadline, pointing out that the team has enough assets to make a major trade, but could find itself caught between its present and future goals. As much as Memphis may want to upgrade the current roster, the team also recognizes that many of its players still have room to improve and might not reach their prime for a couple more years. Herrington identifies Jaylen Brown as one player he’d be prepared to go “all-in” for, but acknowledges the Celtics are very unlikely to move Brown at this year’s deadline.
  • In case you missed it, Ja Morant was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the second week in a row — he’s the first player to earn the honor in back-to-back weeks so far this season and is the only player in the West to win the award so far in 2022.
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