Grizzlies Interested in Dealing Second Overall Pick, But at What Price?

Taylor SmithAnalyst IJune 12, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 14:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics sets up the offense in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on May 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, reports out of Memphis claimed that the Grizzlies and General Manager Chris Wallace are exploring trade offers for the second overall selection in the upcoming NBA draft.

The Knicks, Rockets, and Celtics are rumored to be three of the teams most seriously interested in acquiring the pick.

The question is, in what most call a relatively weak draft class, what kind of value would the Grizzlies be able to get in exchange for the pick?

New York Knicks

It's quite interesting to hear the Knicks rumored to be interested in trading up, considering their current standing with regards to the roster and player salaries.

Donnie Walsh has come into New York and already done a fantastic job in unloading the hefty contracts of players like Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford (on the same day, no less), in order to clear salary cap space to attract 2010 free agents like LeBron James and/or Amare Stoudemire, among others.

If they really are interested in moving up to No. 2, it can be safely assumed that New York will have to part with the eighth overall selection they currently hold. This piece is one advantage the Knicks have over the Celtics and Rockets, as neither of those two teams have a first-round pick this year.

The Knicks only have four players potentially under contract as of now for the 2010-2011 seasons; Eddy Curry (player option), Jared Jeffries (player option), Danilo Gallinari (team option), and Wilson Chandler (team option).

The problem with a potential Knicks offer is that they don't have many attractive active players to entice the Grizzlies with. David Lee is undoubtedly the most valuable, and he's a restricted free agent. It does help, however, that he would fill a dire position of need for the Grizzlies as a power forward, and a double-double waiting to happen.

Quite a bit depends on what happens with Lee's contract situation, as far as matching salaries to complete a trade goes. Memphis has several expiring or relatively lucrative contracts they can ship to New York should they be so inclined, including Marko Jaric, Darko Milicic, and Greg Buckner. Who would New York take with the pick?

Assuming Blake Griffin is off the board, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio seems to have been born to play for Mike D'Antoni. While Rubio may not possess the quickness that Steve Nash does, his court vision and basketball IQ are off-the-charts, and, at 6'4", he will likely be a very, very tough matchup for some of the league's smaller guards.

Boston Celtics

Rumors have been going around recently discussing the Celtics potentially trying to trade point guard Rajon Rondo and/or Ray Allen. What would the Celtics do with the No. 2 pick should they acquire it?

If they end up losing Rondo, it seems only logical that they would select Ricky Rubio, assuming the Clippers don't shock the world by not selecting Blake Griffin. Questions about Rondo's attitude have arisen all year long, and head coach Doc Rivers has even been quoted saying that his teammates sometimes really don't like playing with him.

That being said, Rondo is a supreme talent, having showcased his all-around skills in the two playoff series the Celtics just played. Rondo is listed at 6'1", but has the athleticism (and unusually long arms) to negate his diminutive height.

He has already become perhaps the best rebounding point guard in the league, and, at just 23 years of age, is likely to only continue to improve.

However, for a veteran-laden team like the Celtics just one season removed from having won a championship, I have a hard time imagining them trading their starting point guard to acquire a 19-year-old to run the show in his place.

Kevin Garnett will be healthy in time for next season, and he's already "guaranteed" that Boston will take back the title in each of the next two seasons.

It's likely that Memphis won't be able to find a more appealing trade partner than Boston, given Rondo's youth and already phenomenal ability.

Houston Rockets

Like Boston, Houston does not have a first-round pick in this year's draft, having traded it to Sacramento as part of last year's trade to acquire Ron Artest.

Rockets' GM Daryl Morey has been open about the club's desire to perhaps purchase a first-round choice from a team experiencing financial woes, but this week the Rockets were linked as a possible team inquiring about the second overall pick.

The Rockets' primary trading chips appear to be power forwards Luis Scola and Carl Landry, speedy point guard Aaron Brooks, and the $23 million expiring contract of former-franchise cornerstone Tracy McGrady.

McGrady's involvement in this potential trade is highly unlikely, due to the fact that it would be a struggle for the Grizzlies to match the $23 million salary required to complete the trade, and also, there's no real reason for the Grizzlies to try to get any further under the salary cap than they already are.

Memphis is no hotbed for free agent attraction. Power forward is a big-time position of need for Memphis, so acquiring Scola or Landry should be high on their priority list. Scola, 29, has one year remaining on his contract, and the 25-year-old Landry has two years left.

The Grizzlies traded backup point guard Kyle Lowry to Houston in the Rafer Alston deal, and may be interested in acquiring a player like Brooks as a backup for Mike Conley Jr, who made significant strides last year towards the end of his second NBA season. If they were to snag the pick from the Grizzlies, what would the Rockets do with it?

Backup center is a position of need, but would it really be worth trading up and drafting your backup center (likely Hasheem Thabeet) second overall? Highly unlikely. Whether or not they trade Brooks, the Rockets still need a true point guard. Brooks is much more of a scorer, and the team could use another distributor to play alongside Lowry.

Ricky Rubio is the top-rated point guard across the board, and the Rockets would be ecstatic to be able to insert him into their lineup to help run the show. Also, with McGrady's uncertain future and with Ron Artest and Von Wafer being free agents, the Rockets may be interested in a scoring swingman.

James Harden, a sophomore from Arizona State, is a do-it-all player that would fit perfectly with the Rockets' gritty group of guys. He's a left-hander that can score from just about anywhere on the floor, and plays exceptional defense from the shooting guard spot as well.

If I had to guess, I would assume that the Rockets would select Rubio with this pick, as he has been on NBA radars since he was 16, and looks to be the second coming of Pete Maravich. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see them decide to snag Harden, either.


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