The Memphis Grizzlies entered the season with high expectations, but injuries and poor performances have left the team in a precarious position entering the trade deadline. On the cusp of a playoff appearance after a hot few weeks, it's hard to say where the Grizzlies go next.
Do they try to get healthy, add another piece and hope to make one more run with the current core? Or do they accept that a title isn't possible and cut the cord, looking to possibly deal their most expendable veterans? The Grizzlies' front office has a tough situation to parse through this week.
Buy or sell?
This is the simplest question that needs to be answered: Are the Grizzlies a buyer or a seller?
Every other decision Memphis makes in the coming days stems from that initial decision. For now, the Grizzlies appear to be buyers. If they continue to believe the past few weeks of strong play aren't a fluke, we'll hear Memphis in the mix for upgrades at small forward or on the bench.
Tayshaun Prince has been a disaster this season, shooting 39 percent from the field while looking like a shell of his old self on the defensive end. At age 33, he appeared to already be nearing the end of his career, but the Grizzlies are playing him nearly 27 minutes a night. Even a guy like Mike Dunleavy would be a huge upgrade there.
On the other hand, the Grizzlies looked pretty terrible without Marc Gasol earlier this season, and the Western Conference is as strong as it's been in a while. Maybe the best move for Memphis is to try to sell off guys like Prince, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, retooling the roster for sustainable success in the future.
Z-Bo on the go?
Regardless of the Grizzlies' direction, expect some teams to try to pry Randolph before the deadline. Even on the downswing of his career, he remains a quality power forward and a guy who's historically stepped up his game in the postseason.
Assuming Gasol and Mike Conley are untouchable, Z-Bo will be the guy on Memphis that other teams want.
With a hefty $16.5 million player option for next season, Randolph won't come cheap, but few players on the market are this good. He's averaging 17.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season, his best per-game numbers in three years.
A week ago, it was reported that the Suns inquired on Randolph and were rebuffed by the Grizzlies, so he may not end up being available. Still, he's talented, a deal makes some sense, and that means we'll hear more rumors about Randolph before Feb. 20.
Replacing the Prince
We mentioned this before, but Prince has been bad this season. Like really, genuinely terrible. Among guys averaging 20-plus minutes per game, nobody has a lower true shooting percentage than Prince.
His shot chart looks like this:
Meanwhile, Prince can't create his own shot, and his assist rate is the lowest it's ever been. Unless Prince is getting a layup or an open three from the right corner, he is your offense's worst nightmare. He's also a declining defender and a weak rebounder for his position.
So, if you were wondering where the Grizzlies would look for help, this is the spot. Big man depth might be nice, and another guard who could handle the ball and score would be delightful, but taking those 27 minutes Prince plays every night and handing them to someone else would likely do wonders for this team.
Who might be a possible fit here? The aforementioned Dunleavy is one possibility, and veterans like Danny Granger, Caron Butler, Martell Webster and Richard Jefferson could also be available. There should be plenty of options if Memphis wants an upgrade. It wouldn't be hard.