Should Memphis Grizzlies Choose Ed Davis over Zach Randolph Next Season?

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIMarch 19, 2013

Feb 27, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forwards Ed Davis (32) and Zach Randolph (50) defend against Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter (25) at the FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Davis has turned in some impressive performances for the Memphis Grizzlies, but it isn’t time for Zach Randolph to hand the reins to him yet. Davis will eventually take over as the Grizzlies’ starting power forward, but the front office shouldn’t act too fast turning Randolph into a trade commodity.

Randolph has been rumored to be on the trade block since last summer. However, trade ideas discussed in recent months involving the two-time All-Star weren't serious, as Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien told The Commercial Appeal.

Theoretically, the Grizzlies could find a way to deal Randolph and get a player good enough to bring this small-market team closer to a championship.

The only thing that Memphis could want right now in exchange for their most expensive player is an elite backcourt scorer, perhaps one who can shoot threes. A No. 1 defensive team that stands No. 18 in offensive rating could only desire more on the scoring end.

If the Grizzlies tried to deal their veteran big man for a draft pick, he should net a top-three choice, giving them a shot at one of the two most coveted scoring prospects, Shabazz Muhammad and Ben McLemore. Someone with Randolph's combination of scoring and rebounding can't be redeemed for anything less.

As for a trade involving a current NBAer, the deal must include an established elite scorer. Essentially, they'd be hoping that Carmelo Anthony or Monta Ellis would become available.

The problem is that the possibility of trading for a high-end scorer is questionable, and going for the hot prospect may reset the championship window.

Resetting the championship window isn't a pleasant thought for a franchise that may find itself as close as ever to a title. The Grizzlies are on pace for a franchise-record 56 wins and could earn a top-three finish for the first time.

Their offense became a bit more efficient since the Rudy Gay trade, improving its rating from 104 points per 100 possessions to 104.8.

After this season, Randolph may regress a bit more. However, an elite rebounder who scores well can't drop off much between ages 31 and 32 when he's paired with his best playing partner.

Randolph and Marc Gasol work wonderfully together. Their scoring abilities complement each other perfectly. Randolph has taken his defense to another level, allowing a career-best 99 points per 100 possessions by playing off his Spanish compatriot.

The two work well together on the glass. They've combined for more than 19 rebounds per game in each of Randolph's last three full seasons.

Now, one must wonder not only whether Davis can hold up as a starter next year, but also whether the trade-off between a Gasol-Davis frontcourt and a Gasol-Randolph interior is beneficial.

Sure, Davis has six double-digit scoring performances while wearing the three shades of blue and had 10 points and 10 rebounds in a start against the Orlando Magic. But he's only averaged 9.4 rebounds per 36 minutes—2.4 less than Randolph—since arriving in Memphis.

Gasol might be able to shoulder the load on the glass. But replacing a dominant rebounder with a solid one who only sometimes stands his ground would put the Grizz at a loss.

Earlier in the season, the impetus for entertaining Randolph offers included salary concerns. However, with Gay gone and payroll issues addressed for at least another year, that incentive doesn't exist.

Besides, with a strong core, the Grizzlies stand a fair chance to reach the NBA Finals. The daunting spector looms when they're faced with the Miami Heat.

If the Grizzlies aren't good enough to get past the Heat for a title this year, trading Randolph likely won't do the trick for next year.