NBA Trade Rumors: Marreese Speights Would Be Perfect Backup Plan for Grizzlies

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2011

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 20: Marreese Speights #16 of the Philadelphia 76ers falls over Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls while holding the jersey of teammate Jodie Meeks #20 at the United Center on February 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 122-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies reserve big Darrell Arthur is suffering from a torn Achilles' tendon and will miss the entire 2011-12 season, so the young squad is desperately in need of some frontcourt depth. An ideal fit would be Philadelphia 76ers center Marreese Speights.

According to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the team is looking to add two interior players. Speights has been the subject of trade talks, while the Grizzlies are also preparing an offer sheet for Charlotte Bobcats restricted free agent forward Dante Cunningham.

Speights hasn't quite lived up to expectations since being drafted 16th overall by the Sixers in 2008, but he has great size at 6'10", 255 lbs, and he has a nice offensive touch as well. He was used quite sparingly by Philadelphia last season and saw his per-game averages drop from 8.6 points to 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds to 3.3 rebounds.

While Speights wouldn't exactly be on the floor a ton in Memphis with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph handling the frontcourt duties for the most part, he would certainly be a big part of the rotation. In addition to Arthur's injury, backup center Hamed Haddadi has been unable to secure a visa to get back from Iran, so the Grizzlies are incredibly thin in terms of depth.

It would seem as though the Sixers are disillusioned with Speights for whatever reason, so it likely wouldn't cost an exorbitant amount to reel in Speights. Because of the possible low asking price and Speights' potential to be an impact scorer in the paint, it would seem like a match made in heaven.

The Grizzlies will look to build upon last season's success that saw them sneak into the playoffs, but proceed to knock off the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. With Rudy Gay back in the fold, the Grizz only serve to get better.

While Memphis relies quite a bit on its starters, depth also played a big role in its success last year. With regular-season games beginning on Christmas, the Grizzlies have precious little time to strike a deal, so I believe their sole focus should be on Speights.

It isn't particularly easy to find a center with Speights' offensive ability available too often, so I think Memphis has to jump at the opportunity to get him if the 76ers are willing. A trade for Speights would be far from the sexiest move of the offseason, but it might be one of the savviest as he would be invaluable to the Grizzlies as the primary interior backup.