Amongst claims the Washington Wizards hold an “enviable” spot in Thursday’s draft, (they seem to be the only team apathetic towards the keep vs. trade scenario), the Memphis Grizzlies hold an even more enviable spot … because well, two is better than five. The argument on which team has the most enviable spot starts and ends with the L.A. Clippers, of course.
The Grizz don’t know what they want to do. ESPN’s Ric Bucher tweeted that Grizzlies scouts want Hasheem Thabeet, GM Chris Wallace wants Ricky Rubio, and Coach Lionel Hollins wants Stephen Curry. However, according to reports, Thabeet (insinuated by a cancelled workout) and Rubio might not want Memphis back. Wallace says he could care less about a ‘Spanish-Stay-Away’ order, but probably really does.
During his meet-n-greet with fans, Flip Saunders said, “I still think [Rubio] is going to get taken two. I think someone will make a trade when it comes down to trying to get him because he has that type of impact.”
Flip is exactly right. Rumors of Rubio slipping to the Wizards at the five spot are out-of-touch, especially with the reduced buyout from his contract with DKV Joventut potentially allowing him to join his NBA for the Las Vegas summer league. But hey, that hasn’t kept the Blazers from getting excited about the possibility.
I’d be shocked if Rubio got past the Kings at the fourth spot. I’m very close to calling my boy in Vegas and telling him to put money on Rubio going second (might as well get the Wizards to win the NBA title at 75-1 while I’m at it).
Unteachable instincts, a great feel for the game, court vision, 6’5″ in shoes, and a 6’7″ 3/4 wingspan to boot? Sign me up.
Hence rumors of teams trying to pry the #2 away from Memphis are swirling.
- Minnesota might want the 2nd pick. They could send a package to D.C. for number five and then flip it and their sixth pick to Memphis for number two (probably because Kevin Love for the #2 pick straight up was rejected) … or the T-Wolves could trade with Oklahoma City to land the third pick.
- Boston would like the #2, but Danny Ainge is being absurd with silly offers like Kendrick Perkins and Billy Walker for the #2 … Curiously enough, Celtics fans screamed ‘No!’ at the thought of this trade, as did the reasonable guys at 3 Shades of Blue.
- Chad Ford floated a Ray Allen for Darko Milicic, Greg Buckner, Marko Jaric (and insinuates the 2nd pick would go to Boston) idea so Memphis can “save a little money” — Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer quickly shot down that ridiculousness, citing that Memphis doesn’t necessarily need to trim salary because they may be under the league minimum next season.
How ‘desperate’ are the Grizzlies to trade?
The Memphis Commercial Appeal via a team ‘insider’ reports there’s a 50/50 chance the pick will be traded. But to whom?
The Knicks are interested in Rubio, but outside of the 8th pick, they don’t have a ton of assets that would be desirable to a team like Memphis.
One thing we do know, the Grizzlies would love (but aren’t desperate) to get rid of Marko Jaric and the 2-years, $14.725 million left on this contract. The eight pick and Cuttino Mobley or Quentin Richardson (each with 1-year, $9.5 and $8.7 million left on their contracts respectively) for Jaric and the 2nd would at least get Memphis to pick up the phone, but the call wouldn’t last very long.
Matt Noe from 3 Shades of Blue puts it best:
Are there really any valid, examination-worthy trade partners out there for the Grizzlies when it comes to Ricky Rubio? There just aren’t as many as one might think..unless some team comes from VERY far in left field with a total-knockout offer at the proverbial eleventh hour. One would hope that to trade down in the lottery, that there would be an exchange of lottery picks plus an asset in the form of either a reasonably-priced vet who fills a need (which could be just about anyone as far as the Grizz are concerned)..or maybe a higher-priced vet who is not a “problem contract”.
The Grizzlies are certainly in a bind. If they can’t find a suitable trade partner, they may just select Hasheem Thabeet and hope for the best.
I wouldn’t get Thabeet canceling his workout with Memphis too twisted. Second overall pick money, and playing alongside his fellow Huskie Rudy Gay, probably quells thoughts of not wanting to be a Grizzly.
Realistically, the Grizzlies will likely take the value of Rubio on draft night. Once they do, we’ll all wonder what’s going on as the cameras show a dejected Ricky with Steve Francis face, some insider will suggest he’s going here or there, and a couple of picks later, David Stern will announce a trade.
That’s where the Wizards come in. If someone Memphis truly wants (think Thabeet, or Stephen Curry, or Tyreke Evans, or James Harden), is available to the Wizards at five (and one of them will be), the fifth plus Etan Thomas, for Jaric and Rubio might suffice.
Thomas would give Memphis a serviceable backup big (I’m using ‘serviceable’ loosely and interchangeably with depth), putting them closer to the league minimum with his 15% kicker, which would make Etan’s salary around $8.46 million. The one year left on Thomas’ contract instead of the two left on Jaric’s also allows the Grizzlies to save $7.625 million next summer.
Memphis gets a prospect they want while leaving plenty of money to re-sign Rudy Gay and get a big name free agent for 2010-11 (if anyone would actually want to join a core of Mayo, brother Gasol, Gay, Conley, a draft pick, and an Iranian).
On the other hand, would it be worth it for the Wizards? Meh, not necessarily. If Rubio has potential to slip, you definitely don’t get into any sweetheart deals with Memphis (again, Rubio is NOT slipping past four, just ask Tom Ziller).
But overall, adding Rubio and Jaric, who likely would not be a contributor in any way, shape, or form (but hey, there would be some great sightings of a preggers Adriana Lima in DC), just doesn’t give the Wizards that championship push fans desire (not too mention such a trade would leave Washington heavy on guards and short on post depth).
Mike James for Jaric, and the exchange of picks, keeping Etan to serve as a second or third center, could be a possibility. However, in either case, the Wizards would have to really believe Rubio is worth entering luxury tax territory.
It all depends on how bad the Wizards might want Rubio. Draft Express reports:
If Rubio is on the board, all indications are that the Wizards would take him, and worst comes to worse, deal with the repercussions of him staying in Europe for another year or two until his buyout situation gets resolved. There aren’t many teams that are higher on Rubio’s upside than Washington.
Despite the seemingly unprofessional and immature actions of Rubio’s agent, Dan Fegan (Ok, so unprofessional/immature accusations might be a stretch, but Fegan, being the agent who Gilbert Arenas fired, seems to be blacklisting his players in the draft from meeting with the Wizards — curious in any case. Our friends over at the WizzNutzz threw incites Fegan’s way years ago), Rubio would surely take second slot money, playing for a good team with a chance for minutes (which might also be a stretch given Flip Saunders’ propensity to keep a tight eight man rotation).
In addition, Draft Express recently reported that Rubio’s ‘camp’ backed off statements that the Spaniard wouldn’t mesh with Gilbert Arenas. In fact, D.C. might be the best situation because Rubio won’t necessarily be coming in with pressure to be an immediate savior/creator.
I’m still enthralled with Rubio. If the Wizards had landed the second overall pick on May 19th, the uncertainly surrounding their draft would be much lower and they’d probably go with the young Spaniard. But where Washington sits now, it seems like better deals are out there. And as Mike Prada states on Bullets Forever, it’s definitely not anything the Knicks could send to DC.
The ultimate point of this post is that there really isn’t a point. Anything can happen and the press, the insiders, the pundits, the ‘team sources’, the bloggers, the GMs, and whomever else, are not to be believed. Mock drafts are ridiculous. If you want the truth about it, Kelly Dwyer might have what you seek.
The final thought: if Rubio somehow improbably slips, you take him and celebrate with beautiful high pick and rolls for years to come. If a favorable trade to move up, down, or out of the draft presents itself, take it. Otherwise, Washington is looking at a ‘best available’ situation.
The Wizards’ draft position has become so attractive because of the tight ship Ernie Grunfeld runs. None of the trade rumors seem to derive from the Wizards’ organization itself. The simple perception that Grunfeld is willing to move the pick allows him to sit back and evaluate the offers rolling in.
The pick isn’t enviable, it’s the position of tight-lipped Grunfeld which is enviable. The worst that can happen is the Wizards come away on Thursday night with yet another nice piece for the future. And at this point, the best that can happen is just about anything imaginable.