We round out the Southwest Divison by making a subtle yet impactful transaction between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.
There’s a scenario in which the Memphis Grizzlies end up being a noteworthy trade suitor for San Antonio Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan. They’re a budding playoff team with noteworthy cap space this offseason that can allocate it to a star-caliber player to slot in with Ja Morant. However, I don’t see a scenario in which San Antonio willingly moves DeRozan elsewhere in the Southwest Division — It’d more likely have to be by DeRozan’s own free will in free agency.
So the possibility of moves between San Antonio and Memphis is limited to tertiary moves to flesh out rosters or maneuver financially. There’s no way the Spurs can lure Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Brandon Clarke away in a trade this offseason without overpaying like crazy.
Therefore, the Spurs and Grizzlies would have to swap role players and right now, there’s only one deal that I think makes a decent amount of space for both sides without creating longterm financial ramifications.
The Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs swap Gorgui Dieng for Rudy Gay.
At the tail end of his career, it’d be a touching reunion to see Spurs forward Rudy Gay return to Memphis to provide veteran guidance to a team on the verge of something special. He’s been around this league with too many organizations of interest not to have some influential knowledge to pass down, even if he hasn’t been a part of the most successful versions of those teams.
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Considering he’s on a cheaper deal than Gorgui Dieng, Memphis can toy around with a bit of extra cash to bring along another veteran to solidify their 10-man rotation for next season. Beyond that, they can close the chapter on a relationship that never got fully realized in finality.
For the Spurs, this move not only ensures even more cap space will open up in the loaded 2021 free agency class, but it brings along a talented backup who can serve as a safety net for the team if Jakob Poeltl gets too large of a deal in restricted free agency.
Since being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dieng ranked second on the Grizzlies in total rebound percentage (17.9%) and second on the team in block percentage by just a hair (5.2%). Dieng is a floor-spacing big who would show great promise in the silver and black. He’s certainly a more valuable player to Gay at this point in his growth and is comparable to Poeltl in many categories, so he could be a serviceable backup. In the even that Poeltl does return, having Dieng gives the Spurs some insurance in case they get a good mid-season offer to move former All-NBA big man LaMarcus Aldridge while opening up the minutes for Luka Samanic to emerge.
You can find other articles in this series by clicking on the team name below:
Pacific Division: LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors — Northwest Division: Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves— Southwest Division: New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks.