Like many of you, I watched yesterday’s devastating loss to the Indiana Pacers. It was one more disappointing moment in a stretch that’s been full of them. The Grizzlies are in a slump right now, and their one big win against the Bulls on Saturday still involved them blowing a 17-point lead late in the game. As dark as recent times have been, there was one bright spot in yesterday’s game: the excellent play of Wayne Ellington. He hit threes, and displayed a great ability to get the basket. You could totally see this guy playing a huge part in a Grizzlies’ playoff-
Wait, what? they traded him? Well, that’s a bummer. But hey, it’s just one guy, the core of the bench is still intact, and they still have a great set of big men coming off the ben-
They traded Speights too?! OH YOU’VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!
Wait, wait, I’m probably getting upset over nothing. they wouldn’t trade two huge parts of their bench unless they were getting something valuabel in return, right? In fact, I bet the Grizzlies are going to be even bett-
What’s a Jon Leuer?
Okay, so let’s summarize. the Grizzlies traded Ellington, and Speights, two of their most valuable second unit players, and Josh Selby, who has loads of potential, and might do really well if he just got some playing time, and all they got in return was a player who is averaging 2 points a game, and can’t crack the rotation on one of the worst teams in the league. That’s what they did.
But they didn’t stop there. In order to fill the new holes in their lineup, the Grizzlies brought in Bill Walker and Delonte West. Or to put it another way, two guys who haven’t played this season. It has to say something that no one wanted these guys, right? I mean, look at how thin the Blazers bench is. They’re a potential playoff team, who will likely be on the outside looking in because of their lack of depth, and at no point did they decide that bringing in Delonte West and Bill Walker would rectify the situation. The Grizzlies disagreed apparently.
This trade really doesn’t make any sense to me. The explanation we’ve been given is that it’s a way of avoiding the luxury tax. Look, I get that owners are concerned about money above all else, but in a season where we’re supposed to believe the Grizzlies have a legitimate shot of winning a title, it’s hurts to see them do something like this. If this was the only way to keep them from trading Rudy or Z-Bo, then I could see a bit of a silver lining from that perspective, but what I can’t look past is that the Grizzlies undeniably made themselves worse today.
Seeing Speights go hurts the most. I liked Ellington, but he was inconsistent, and he was only here for half a season, so the fans never developed a major connection with him (we’ll always the Heat game, though). Speights, though, he was a big part of the Grizzlies run last season. The team could’ve collapsed without Z-Bo, but Speights did a fine job filling in for him, and often looked like a legitimate NBA starter. Some will say that having Darrell Arthur around again made him redundant, but I disagree; the two of them playing together gave both depth and toughness to the second unit. It would not surprise me at all if Speights caught on in a big way in Cleveland, especially with Varejao out for the year.
What I really fear is that this move is a surrendering of sorts. Maybe the ownership looked at how the Grizzlies had been floundering lately, and decided that trying for a title just wasn’t worth it. How else can you explain slaughtering the second unit just to save some money? The bench has no depth now. It wasn’t that deep to begin with, and this trade made it worse. I’m trying to talk myself into these guys, but I just don’t see it. Yes, Delonte West saw minutes on a lot of good teams, but he was ever a huge part of any of those teams? The Cavs and Celtics teams he was on would’ve been just fine without him. Also, as a shooting guard who can kind of play point guard, isn’t he just a worse of Jerryd Bayless? As for Bill Walker, I mean, all the guy ever really does is shoot threes. I guess the Grizzlies need a guy who can do that, but they already had a better one with Ellington. Also, is Leuer going to get Speights’s minutes now? No, I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all.
I was really hoping the Grizzlies wouldn’t make any serious moves; that would they just let this team stay as it is now, and see what they can do in the playoffs. I’ll admit, I like this better than trading one of the starters, but doing a blatant salary dump like this in the middle of the best season in franchise history sends a clear message to the fans: we don’t think we can win a title, and we don’t want to spend the money to try.