The Grizzlies made several “we’ll have to see” moves last night, none of which will grab headlines, but they did manage to pull off what I think will be a great trade under the radar.
PF Darrell Arthur and the rights to the #55 pick (Joffrey Lauvergne from France) will go to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for C Kosta Koufos. Koufos started 81 games for Denver, but he will serve as a much needed back up for Marc Gasol in Memphis, relieving Marc of some burdensome 37+ minute games. This also cleans up the Grizzlies’ front court rotation, giving Ed Davis (not to mention Jon Leuer) more time to develop at backup PF.
The Kansas product will be missed. I’ve been saying for some time the Grizzlies would be better without Arthur, as he had become a statistical vacuum since his troubling injury problems. But when he was healthy, he gave us some of the best highlights of the memorable 2011 playoff run.
Watch the camera shake when Arthur throws it down. The Forum probably suffered some structural damage on that play. The only other time I’ve seen that happen was in the same series, when Marc Gasol ripped a rebound out of Tim Duncan’s hands and put it back up, then did a “World’s Strongest Man” flex. Good times.
This is one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time, only because of Marc’s reaction – he looks like he just came home and found out his dog had diarrhea all day.
The new front office was never wild about Arthur, as he absorbed the minutes of trade gets Leuer and Davis, both of whom were buried on the bench under Lionel Hollins. With the latter now gone, the FO was able not just to restructure a sticky front court, but get a good piece in return, shaving about $200,000 off their payroll (and getting a cheaper 2014-15 team option) in the process.
Think of Kosta Koufos as the Millennium Falcon – he may not look like much, but he’s got it where it counts. Like Marc, he’s a true center and a great rebounder, but his range is closer to the rim than Marc’s – he took 486 of his 508 shots in the paint last year (95.7%), making 58% of them. Dave Joerger said he wanted layups, and Koufos has got ’em.
But Kosta isn’t a scoring artist at 8 PPG – he’s an all-rounder. He owns a 17.3 PER, and one of the guys over at Grizzly Bear Blues will explain how:
Only 7 players in the NBA collected 17% of available total rebounds, while also blocking 2 shots per 36 mins last year. Among them: Tim Duncan, Joakim Noah, Larry Sanders and Derrick Favors. Only 3 other players did this while also shooting over 54%. One of them was Dwight Howard. The other two: Deandre Jordan and Kosta Koufos.
So Koufos might not be an offensive threat, but he’s definitely a workhorse, and he’ll be a great role player behind Gasol – probably the best backup center in the league. If you want a preview of his game, check out what he did to the Grizzlies just a few months ago:
And if you’re curious about his reputation, check out this article from the Denver Post.
I personally think the Grizz won this trade, but Darrell Arthur may be a better fit for the athletic, fast-paced style of the Nuggets than Koufos was. If it does turn out to be mutually beneficial, we could be thinking of this trade in line with the much praised Kawhi Leonard – George Hill trade that was initially overlooked, but showed its brilliance in the 2013 Conference Finals.