The Grizzlies‘ slide down the standings continued on Monday night, as a loss in Houston dropped Memphis’ record to 19-24. The Grizzlies now rank 14th in the Western Conference, four games back of the eighth-seeded Jazz.
The standings in the West are still bunched up enough that even a brief hot stretch could put the club back in the playoff picture. But with so many teams now between them and the top eight, the odds of a Grizzlies postseason push appear to be dwindling by the day. Especially since their next three games come against Milwaukee, Boston, and Toronto.
Given the Grizzlies’ spot in the standings, they’ll face some tough decisions in the coming weeks as the February 7 trade deadline approaches. Here are a few of the latest notes and rumors out of Memphis:
- According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), there’s a growing belief around the NBA that Marc Gasol will opt for free agency this summer, rather than exercising his $25.6MM player option. A $25.6MM salary will be hard to replicate for a 34-year-old free agent, so Gasol shouldn’t be considered a lock to opt out. Still, Stein wonders if the Grizzlies could explore trading Gasol at the deadline rather than risk losing him for nothing in the offseason.
- In a recent article for The Daily Memphian, Chris Herrington expressed skepticism that the Grizzlies would seriously consider dealing Gasol this season. However, Herrington also believes that the acquisition of Justin Holiday will probably be the last move Memphis makes as a buyer this season. While Herrington doesn’t expect a full-fledged fire sale, he writes that some “smaller, strategic selling” seems realistic.
- If the Grizzlies’ playoff chances keep slipping, it could make sense for the team to embrace the tank and try to keep its first-round pick, which is top-eight protected. However, that may not be the best approach for the franchise, as David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal explains. The 2019 draft class is viewed as fairly average after the top four or five players, and if the Grizzlies keep this year’s pick, they’ll just owe Boston a future first-rounder with fewer protections.