With the 12-15 Memphis Grizzlies sitting at the bottom of the Southwest Division, 3.5 games out of the playoffs and center Marc Gasol only days removed from being on crutches, there's reason to wonder if they are looking to dismantle their current core. Power forward Zach Randolph's name is the one that most often comes up in trade rumors, given that he can opt out of the final year of his contract this summer. The Grizzlies, though, reportedly have no immediate plans to trade him or tank the season, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
With [Rudy] Gay's departure, the Grizzlies' Big Three has morphed into what the team refers to as its Core Four: Gasol, Randolph, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. The plan, according to league sources, is to find ways to maximize those four foundational pieces in the short term while building around Gasol and Conley in the long term.
Despite the potential riches that could be acquired in the 2014 draft, the Grizzlies aren't looking to tear down in the short term. League sources say they're active in trade discussions that would inject some wing athleticism into the mix and improve the team.
Berger goes on to say that Memphis is determined not to lose Randolph for nothing, so things could change if Randolph decides he wants out. As of now, though, Randolph has not expressed that desire. In an interview earlier this month, he said that he wants to retire in Memphis and it hurts to be bandied about in the rumor mill, via NBA.com's Fran Blinebury:
"I'm 32 now, but I feel like I've still got a few good years left in me and I feel like I can be somebody who can contribute to a winning team, be a significant part of team that can contend for a championship. And I think we can do that here. Even more, I feel like I've put down some roots in Memphis, helped this team make a name for itself, really become part of the community and to build something that can last. This is where I want to be and where I want to stay. All I can do is make that clear. But it's a business and it ain't my call."
The Grizzlies are in a tough spot. It doesn't yet make sense yet to shop everybody, but they don't have an obvious avenue to address the team's deficiencies in the short term. Trading Randolph would likely be the best way to acquire some young talent, but that kind of move would drastically change the identity that they have so carefully constructed.