NBA Trade Rumors: With Zach Randolph Out, Do Memphis Grizzlies Need to Deal?

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIJanuary 9, 2012

The Memphis Grizzlies have made a few deals since before the season started to plug holes in the frontcourt.

After Darrell Arthur went down with an Achilles tear, the Grizzlies acquired Quincy Pondexter from the New Orleans Hornets and signed Dante Cunningham. When Zach Randolph went down, the Grizzlies acquired Marreese Speights.

With Randolph out long-term, is that it?

These players are nice additions. Speights can rebound and score a fair amount, but entered practice for the Philadelphia 76ers out of shape after the lockout ended.

Cunningham is a nice rebounder and eats up minutes, but doesn't shoot much.

Pondexter is long. Even though he's only 6'6", Pondexter can rebound.

Also, Josh Davis, a 31-year-old preseason holdover who finally made an NBA team after trying out for 15 teams in 10 years, is scrappy and capable, but one wouldn't expect him to play much.

Hamed Haddadi re-signed with the Grizzlies, but it's hard to tell when he'll receiver his work visa.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace did a good job of putting together a motley crew of players to help Marc Gasol in the frontcourt without breaking the bank.

Cunningham and Haddadi each signed for less than $2 million. The Grizzlies sent Greivis Vasquez for Pondexter. 

They packaged two second-round picks (one to the 76ers and one to the Hornets) and sent Xavier Henry to the Hornets in the Speights trade.


Grizzlies Replacements Struggling to Make Up for Loss of Randolph and Arthur

While Wallace did good job of pulling these deals, they aren't complete replacements for Arthur and Randolph.

Arthur was a solid scorer off the bench. Randolph led the team in scoring last season and was one of the most dominant rebounders in the league. Replacing a rebounder like Randolph is extremely difficult.

The Grizzlies haven't done a great job on the boards since Randolph went down, having been out-rebounded in three of four games since Z-bo went down.

Cunningham is averaging 3.5 rebounds per game through eight games, including only one on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Speights pulled down seven against the Lakers, but didn't have any rebounds in his six-minute debut against the Utah Jazz.

Randolph would have grabbed one or two rebounds in six minutes.

Pondexter has only grabbed 2.1 rebounds per game in his first four games for the Grizzlies.

Thus, the Grizzlies are still trying to make up for the loss in rebounding.

Interior scoring without Randolph and Arthur is another issue.

Speights and Pondexter did a nice job against the Lakers, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively, but it hardly did the trick with Gasol missing all nine field-goal attempts and scoring only two points.

Pondexter has scored 5.8 points per game and Cunningham only 4.3 points per game.

That's barely half Randolph's output.


Another Trade May Be Necessary

To make up for the loss in scoring and rebounding, the Grizzlies may have to do more than just get creative, getting big games from various players. Wallace needs keep his hand by the phone, looking for more trade possibilities.

DeMarcus Cousins asked the Sacramento Kings to trade him, and despite the backlash from then-head coach Paul Westphal, Cousins could still be traded.

Co-owver Joe Maloof told Sports Illustrated Westphal stepped outside his boundaries by saying the team wouldn't trade him, but didn't directly address the possibility of trading Cousins.

That could imply that the Kings are still open to trading Cousins.

Acquiring Cousins would be wonderful for the Grizzlies.

Such a deal would help significantly in closing the scoring and rebounding gap with Randolph out.

Cousins averages 14.4 points per game and averaged 14.1 points per game as a rookie last season. On his career, he averages 8.8 rebounds per game.

However, keeping Cousins happy after Randolph's return would be a problem.

To acquire Cousins, a fifth overall pick last year, the Grizzlies would have to give up O.J. Mayo and maybe more.

Also, the Grizzlies might want to revisit a previous trade possibility.

Last year, Comcast Sports Net Chicago reported that the Grizzlies were looking to trade Mayo to the Chicago Bulls for either Taj Gibson or Omer Asik.

Both Gibson and Asik are strong defensive players who rebound well. Gibson averages 6.5 rebounds per game on his two-plus-year career.

Asik has averaged 3.9 rebounds per game in a little more than a year in the NBA. He has a 22.2 percent career defensive rebounding percentage.

Neither Asik nor Gibson scores very much, but neither is high-maintenance like Cousins.


Conclusion: Grizzlies Frontcourt Not Strong Enough Without Randolph

Wallace did a nice job getting spare parts to help with Randolph gone. However, the frontcourt doesn't look strong enough with Randolph out.

The supplemental scoring and rebounding aren't there. Also, as seen in the loss to the Lakers on Sunday, making up for Gasol on his off nights is tough.

Wallace hasn't indicated whether he's finished making deals. Hopefully, he isn't.

The Grizzlies are 2-2 with Randolph out.

Weathering the absence of Randolph will be tough, but it could be eased with another move.


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