There have been various reports stating that the rumored trade that would send Grizzlies’ F Dante Cunningham north to Minnesota for SG Wayne Ellington is on hold, has been submitted to the league office, or is still waiting on a third team to get involved.
I’ll be honest — I don’t know what is happening or what will happen, although I believe that the trade is likely to take place. Granted, I don’t know that it is necessary with Jerryd Bayless under contract and Josh Selby lighting it up from outside in his first two Summer League games, but DC is a man destined to be buried deep on the bench as the 5th big man right now.
So, what about the former Tar Heel?
This is Wayne Ellington.
This is Wayne Ellington and girlfriend Amanda Altschuler.
Yeah…I’m sold on this trade. How about y’all?
Oh, you wanted some actual analysis? From us? Ok, ok.
Ellington is a shooting guard by reputation. In college, he was one of the most efficient scorers in the nation. Since being drafted by the Timberwolves, his numbers have been pretty consistent. He averages around 6.0 – 6.5 points per contest, grabs a couple of boards, dishes out the rare assist to go with the occasional turnover, rarely goes to the free throw line, and hits about 40% of his shots in just under 20 minutes per game.
Consistency is usually a good thing. However, when a player fails to develop at all — and in fact, falters in some important categories like 3PT% and FT% — then it is something else entirely.
Is this a good trade? Is this a necessary trade? Frankly, if Ellington was a better shooter or had better size and athleticism, then I’d like it a lot more than I currently do. I understand that Cunningham isn’t seen as a necessity, and that shooting is needed after a lack of it sank the Grizzlies the last two postseasons. However, I don’t know that you necessarily have to make this deal right now.
Dante was a quality backup all of last season. That’s not to overstate his value, but just to remind fans that he’s not mere bench fodder. He’s just the victim of too much talent on one team at the same position he plays. With a healthy Zach Randolph, Darrell Arthur, and Marreese Speights on the roster, there is simply no place for him.
Also, with the departure of O.J. Mayo to Dallas, the Grizzlies only have one real SG on the team — Tony Allen. And for all of his grit and grind, TA isn’t a perimeter threat. Jerryd Bayless is, but he’s a combo guard who will likely see a lot of time as a ballhandler off the bench. Selby is looking more and more like the kind of scorer who will force the coaching staff to find minutes for him this season — but his lack of size makes it difficult to allow him to defend most SGs he’d face. Tony Wroten has the size, but is a rookie who will likely be overwhelmed by the opponents he faces — and the lack of calls from the refs. Because of that, trading for a SG makes sense — and Cunningham is the lone “extra” with any value, since Jeremy Pargo has no trade value whatsoever, other than for a future 2nd round pick perhaps.
Could Chris Wallace and the front office get more for DC than just a player of Ellington’s caliber? Maybe — if he’s willing to wait it out and make a deal later in the year. But, without being able to give Dante playing time, his value will only drop, which is why exploring a trade now is the smartest move. Also, Ellington has an attractive contract, only making $2 million this season with a team option/qualifying offer of $3 million next year.
The biggest concern is the notion that Cunningham is a better, more valuable player overall. If that’s the case — and Ellington is nothing more than an end-of-the-bench fixture — then keeping DC makes a ton of sense. If they actually expect Ellington to be more of a factor, then bring him on. Hopefully, he’s still dating Altschuler, and she’ll come to a few games this season.