MikeCheck: Grizzlies impressively multitask in acquiring Temple, sending Davis, McLemore, pick and cash to Kings
Memphis - Coming off a 60-loss campaign, the Grizzlies have regained a winning stride this summer.
The team’s offseason makeover and upgrade took another big swing with Tuesday’s trade to acquire well-respected, veteran swingman Garrett Temple from the Kings in exchange for center Deyonta Davis, guard Ben McLemore, a future second-round pick and cash considerations.
Before breaking down the particulars, know this: this was another significant score for the Grizzlies.
At the very least, it’s a case of addition by subtraction. The Grizzlies were headed toward September training camp with 16 players under either full or partially guaranteed traditional NBA contracts, which is one above the league limit of 15 for the start of the regular season. Simply on the surface, the two-for-one swap balances the roster and negates the need to cut a player and pay him to go away ... again.
The Grizzlies also continued some corrective measures for previous missteps and decisions that weren’t working out. Despite ambitious hopes and expectations to finally get something out of a 2013 NBA Lottery pick in McLemore, the truth is his short-lived Grizzlies tenure literally got off on the wrong foot and stumbled further into frustration and disappointment last season.
McLemore broke his foot in an offseason workout in Los Angeles last summer, just days after he signed a two-year, $11 million contract in free agency with Memphis. He never settled into the rotation after rehab and by November, McLemore’s biggest proponent in David Fizdale was dismissed as coach. The Grizzlies have been trying to move McLemore since then, and found a taker in the same organization that drafted the athletic shooting guard and spent four years waiting on him to develop.
On a larger scale, the Grizzlies’ front office has now moved on from both their entire 2017 free-agent signing class of McLemore, Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers in addition to their entire 2016 draft class. Davis, the first pick of that draft’s second round, was seen in some circles as a lottery level talent when he left Michigan State after an injury-riddled freshman season two years ago.
But at 6-11 and 240 pounds, with shot-blocking instincts and a soft touch around the basket, Davis’ production, consistency and effort never matched the upside and potential he arrived with as the potential heir apparent to franchise center Marc Gasol. Davis’ departure in Tuesday’s trade comes 10 months after the Grizzlies released 2016 first-round pick Wade Baldwin in training camp, one season after he was selected No. 17 overall. Memphis also parted that same offseason with 2016 second-round pick Rade Zagorac.
If nothing else, what the Grizzlies are showing during an aggressive offseason makeover is that they won’t hesitate to cut bait. After tumbling out of the playoffs last year for the first time in eight seasons, there’s an urgency to their planned resurgence. In one swoop, the Grizzlies replaced underperforming projects with a proven vet in Temple, a 6-6 multi-positional wing who is assertive on both ends of the floor.
Temple, McLemore and Davis all have one year remaining on contracts that expire after the end of the upcoming season. But what the Grizzlies accomplished in the trade was shedding two players who weren’t going to be factors in coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s game-night pecking order for a versatile, high IQ locker room leader who proposes to be an essential fit in the bench rotation. Temple has spent time over nine seasons with the Kings, Wizards, Spurs, Hornets, Rockets and Bucks after going undrafted out of LSU in 2009.
He started 35 of his 65 games last season with the Kings and had the most prolific three-point shooting effort of his career after connecting on 39.2-percent of his attempts. Temple, 32, also averaged 8.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 24.8 minutes a game.
This means the Grizzlies get a player who has embraced his role under multiple conditions, and Temple joins a returning guard rotation that includes Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, Wayne Selden, Dillon Brooks and MarShon Brooks. There’s also a connection that runs deep with Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, who is close with Temple’s father, Collis, dating to the family's run of players at LSU.
The Grizzlies have generated plenty of momentum this offseason. It started with promoting Bickerstaff to full-time head coach and solidifying his staff with former NBA players and development-minded assistants. It continued with the June draft that landed No. 4 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. and No. 32 pick Jevon Carter, who both excelled in summer league play.
Then, free agency delivered the solid additions of forwards Kyle Anderson and Omri Casspi – two players who are expected to add depth, perimeter shooting and versatile playmaking. And this week’s trade is the kicker, a strong move that cleared up some roster issues, brought back a serviceable asset and pushed the momentum forward toward training camp.
But let’s be clear. Ultimate success – meaning a swift return to playoff contention in the increasingly relentless West – still hinges on the sustained health of Gasol and Conley, the steady development of Jackson and the new veteran additions quickly getting up to speed.
What’s also clear is the Grizzlies have gotten better, smarter and deeper this offseason.
The bulk of the housecleaning is done in this summer of transition.
All that’s left is to put the puzzle together.
Enticing pieces are certainly in place.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.