The Memphis Grizzlies should not risk breaking up their frontcourt trio by attempting to trade Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph. Through 36 games played this season, the Grizzlies are the fourth seed in the Western Conference and are still in the upper elite category with the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers.
The Grizzlies have one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league, but they're confusingly still overlooked and underrated. Gay, Randolph, and Marc Gasol work extremely well together on offense and defense and they all possess unique skill sets that complement each other nicely.
Some teams seek a midseason trade to add a crucial, missing piece to their team to make them a contender, like the Thunder did two seasons ago by obtaining Kendrick Perkins.
But the Grizzlies are in a different position.
With the overabundance of offensive talent that the Thunder team had a few seasons back, Jeff Green became expendable. However, Gay and Randolph are two of the team's top three players, with the bulk of the Grizzlies' offense running through the two of them, along with Gasol.
Right now, the talent and skill sets of each individual player on the team complement each other perfectly. From point guard to center, the Grizzlies have constructed a team where each member has a unique role without having redundant talent at every position.
Trading away one of their main players, or even one of their role players, will hurt them more than help them.
Without Gay, there isn't anybody else on the team that can truly create their own shot down the stretch. Randolph is undoubtedly one of the best power forwards in the league today and even proved that he was capable of carrying a team on his back in the playoffs, but he's not the guy who can create his own shot when defenses collapse on him in the post.
Without Randolph, the Grizzlies lose their best rebounder and a dominant post presence, as well as a secondary go-to guy when the team needs a bucket. He's the main reason why the team is third in the league in rebounding rate at this point.
Though Gay is having arguably his worst season since his rookie year and is the major trade piece the team is trying to ship out, the jury is still out on him. He might be just having an off year and could bounce back once he finds his groove as the playoffs come closer.
It's highly unlikely that a player could be regressing, especially an athletic specimen like Gay, at twenty-six years of age and in his prime, so maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Grizzlies have put themselves in a position to be a contender for the next few years with this lineup, and moving Gay or Randolph would devastate the team chemistry.
Realistically, however, none of these players on the market can drastically improve the Grizzlies and help them break through to the next level.
The Grizzlies are built to win now, but Pierce is thirty-five years old and is hardly an upgrade over Rudy Gay at this stage of his career. He probably has more wisdom and championship experience, but he has never been as athletic as Gay, even in his prime, and is likely a downgrade on defense. As one of the least athletic teams in the NBA, a Gay for Pierce trade would make the team slower. And Pierce isn't a player that can push the team over the top.
Josh Smith coming to the team might make things a bit more interesting, as he's every bit the defender Gay is. But Smith isn't an upgrade over Gay on offense—he cannot break people down and create off the dribble like Gay, and the Grizzlies will probably have to give up another player or two for Smith.
J.J. Hickson is one of the most underrated, undersized centers and could instantly provide for this team. However, the Grizzlies already have a rebounding machine in Randolph, so trading Randolph for a package surrounding Hickson is just unnecessary. Hickson is nowhere near as dominant as Randolph in the post, and it's doubtful that the Grizzlies could get a dominant post scorer to fill in the void for Randolph if he does get traded.
Although Beal hasn't been shooting the ball exceptionally well, he is still a good shooter in the right situation, and could help remedy the team's weaknesses in perimeter shooting. As I mentioned earlier though, the Grizzlies are built to win right now, and will not have time to develop a young prospect in Beal while Gasol is in his prime and Randolph is exiting his.
Although the Grizzlies are considering shaking up their team midway through the season, they would have a much better chance at contending for a championship if they keep their team intact.
Any trade of Gay or Randolph would ruin their exceptional frontcourt chemistry, and that's the last thing a contender would want to risk. Their roster is already well constructed and with everyone healthy this year, it'll be the perfect opportunity to see what this team can do in the playoffs.