With the NBA trade deadline coming up in about a month, we are starting to be able to tell which teams will be buyers and which teams will be sellers. ESPN reported that the Grizzlies are expected to try to move Tyreke Evans for a first round draft pick, but that Marc Gasol is not going anywhere.
Tyreke Evans has done everything for Memphis this season. He started the season coming off the bench and he torched everyone else’s second units. Now he is in the starting lineup and he is the only guy giving the Grizzlies even a small chance to win on a nightly basis.
The Grizz got Evans on the steal of the summer contract for 1 year and 3.3 million dollars. Obviously Tyreke will get a much bigger contract this summer, and the Grizzlies have to carefully figure out what the next step will be. Memphis only has 3 real options with this whole situation, at least at this point.
The first option is to keep up faith that you can turn the season around and make the playoffs. The Grizzlies would hope Mike Conley would be available to return in the next week or two, and nobody gets moved before the trade deadline. The Grizz would ride out Tyreke’s contract and hope they are able to re-sign him, and that he does not walk away this summer leaving Memphis empty handed.
The second option is to punt on the season, and move Tyreke before the deadline. In this scenario, Chris Wallace would almost definitely be looking for a first round pick and possibly something else on top of the pick. The rest of the season would be rough, especially if Conley does not return soon, but at least you get something in return instead of standing there empty handed come July.
The last option is my favorite option. You move Tyreke in the next month, regardless of Conley’s health, and then you go after him hard this summer. The Grizzlies would rent Evans to another team for their playoff run, get a first round pick in return, and then try to sign him to a longer contract in Memphis. This option definitely sounds the best, but there is no guarantee of getting Tyrke back this summer.
Whether the Grizzlies keep Evans or trade him, they will still run into the same problems this summer, the biggest one being the money. The Grizz have a ton of money tied up in Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, and Marc Gasol. Tyreke has proven this year that he deserves a substantial amount of money, and that is something Memphis just does not have right now. Depending on how much money Tyreke wants, the Grizz might have to find a way to dump one of their big contracts, but they would be dumb to trade Mike Conley, and Chandler Parsons is untradeable with his health and that massive contract. That means Marc Gasol is the only tradeable big contract, but Chris Wallace said Big Spain is untouchable.
For Marc Gasol to be untouchable, it must mean that the front office believes Gasol can go back to being one of the best big men in the league when he gets his partner, Mike Conley, back. It was not a great sample size, but Memphis did look like one of the best teams in the West before Conley went down. They got off to a 5-1 start, and that miserable 11 game losing streak started the first game Conley was out.
It is important to remember how the Grizzlies got off to a hot start, and not just assume that everything will be fine when Gasol gets his point guard back. The starters were not going out and obliterating other first units, but the bench was killing opposing benches. Guess who the leader of the bench was… Tyreke Evans.
The other question about Tyreke going into free agency is if he even wants to be in Memphis. Would he rather go play for a California team, or somewhere he feels like he would have a better chance at winning a championship? If he does not want to be a Grizzly, nothing else matters.
The coming days leading up to the trade deadline will be interesting, and we should hear plenty of Tyreke Evans trade rumors. If I had to bet on it right now, I would say Tyreke will not be a Grizzly next season, but a lot can happen between now and July. I fully expect Evans to finish the season in a different city, but we probably will not know his long term future until sometime this summer.