John Hollinger is assumed to have taken over the player evaluation chores especially after the sudden departure of the Grizzlies scouting team. Hand picked by owner Robert Pera and CEO Jason Levien, that isn’t much of a stretch to assume.
That could mean Hollinger, not Wallace, will be the trigger man for roster moves for the rest of the season. Right now we don’t really know where the job responsibility falls in this regard, but, considering Hollinger is the owner’s guy and Wallace is from the old regime, it isn’t crazy to assume the statistical expert from ESPN will have a lot to say about what roster moves are made the rest of the season.
So which Grizzlies players could be in trouble under a Hollinger front office? There are a few surprising candidates on the list. This is not to say that any of these players would be moved based solely on Hollinger’s system. Still it is worthwhile seeing who stacks up well the way Hollinger sees players.
So Who Could be in Trouble?
Rudy Gay: Rudy is 11th in the league in scoring but that isn’t a major factor in the way Hollinger evaluates players. In Hollinger’s ranking Rudy is just a slightly above average SF who is paid to be a lot more. Rudy Gay comes in at 96th in the league under Hollinger’s PER rating. That’s behind Mike Conley (65), Zach Randolph (tied at 33) and Marc Gasol (24) who are all paid less than Rudy.
A major drawback to moving Rudy and his contract is that the Grizzlies are very thin at SF. Only Quincy Pondexter is capable of defending opposing SFs. A trade involving Rudy would seem to require someone in return who was not only less expensive but capable of playing the 3 under Lionel Hollins. If the team remains in the hunt for a home court playoff series it isn’t likely Hollinger would disrupt the front line.
Small Forwards who are higher rated than Rudy who could be available in a trade include Paul Pierce, Josh Smith and Memphis native Thaddeus Young as well as others.
Tony Allen: Tony Allen was a first team All-NBA defender last season. This season Tony hasn’t been as sharp defensively as he has in the past and at 31, is not likely to improve in the areas he is weak in. His sporadic offensive performance has become a liability. Hollinger has him rated as only the 45th best SG. Hollinger’s PER ranking has Tony listed as the 261st player in the league. The Grizzlies need to find a 2 guard who can shoot from the perimeter to open up things for Gasol and Randolph down low. He’s valued for his defensive capability so there would likely be interest. He’s also an expiring contract which could allow a cash strapped team to give a better player in return to free up cap space.
Tony too has drawbacks in a trade. His contract is expiring after all and the Grizzlies are currently paying the luxury tax. Their front line and Conley alone put them at the salary cap. The Grizzlies are a small market team and even David Stern has said they shouldn’t ever be paying the luxury tax. It doesn’t seem likely the team would take on additional salary unless they believed this could be Memphis’ year. Also, Tony is the emotional backbone of the team. He invented the saying “Grit and Grind.” It would be hugely unpopular for Tony to be traded unless a very popular player (meaning big name) came back in return. Finally, Tony is the starting SG and if the team is still competing it isn’t likely the starting five would be disturbed.
Possible players that could interest Hollinger include MarShon Brooks, Gerald Henderson and possibly Jared Dudley.
Marreese Speights: Mo Speights is having a slow start to the season. He’s lost his primary big man off the bench role to Darrell Arthur and is paid more than Arthur. In Hollinger’s PER rating he is only a 14.16 which is below average. Speights is still young, has a reasonable contract and has performed as a starter much better than a bench player. Teams needing frontline help could be interested in Speights.
The one liability to trading a Speights could also be a positive. The only other large center the team has is Hamed Haddadi. Haddadi has had his moments and if given regular minutes could develop into a nice reserve center. If size isn’t needed the Grizzlies have the option of going small with Randolph or Arthur manning the middle. Of course, if Hollinger believes, as Hollins apparently does, that Haddadi isn’t a viable option then Speights is the closest thing to Gasol on the team.
A move of Speights would mean the team is fine with their frontline and would likely look for perimeter shooters in return. That skill is available in many places.
Darrell Arthur: Arthur has replaced Speights in the rotation as the first big off the bench but under Hollinger’s ranking Arthur isn’t playing as well as Speights. Darrell’s contract isn’t as large as Speight’s but he could be moved for an expiring contract to give Speights more time on the court.
The drawback is Arthur is still young, still playing his way back from injury and should continue to improve. He brings much better athleticism to the court as well. Arthur can guard the 3 point shooting PFs in the league far better than anyone else on the roster.
Moving Arthur would allow the team to find a better perimeter shooting player as well.
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