Grade the Trade: Grizzlies double down on defense in new proposal for 26-year-old big

Portland Trail Blazers v Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Grading the trade: Do the Grizzlies swing on Robert Williams III?

In terms of fit, adding Williams to the team seems like a reasonable choice given his potential defensive upside paired alongside other key pieces and a natural spot in the four-five position.

With that being said, there's still reasonable concern over trading for the still young big man, as Williams played a meager six games this past season and has previously missed games during his tenure with the Celtics.

The hope is that he would have been able to take time this past year to reevaluate how he has conditioned himself to be more durable and available for games. With the practices and facilities, it's feasible that he could come back in his best shape yet and play 65+ games.

Planning for the worst-case scenario would lead the Grizzlies to be rightfully cautious when giving up assets to potentially secure the defensive anchor.

At the same time, there's an immense potential upside on both the offensive and defensive end. This, in turn, can help to free up other key players and propel the team forward.

The obvious concern is the health of Williams' knee post-surgery, which ended his season early in 2023-2024, and will likely need to be addressed ahead of time if the Blazers intend to try and move him for any substantial package.

On top of this, the Grizzlies will have to continue navigating the overall team salary and decide how far into extra tax areas they're willing to go to solidify their upcoming roster.

Barring major setbacks post-surgery, the 26-year-old will hopefully be able to take steps towards returning to his daunting form which had netted him All-Defensive honors during the 2021-2022 season.

The nature of the trade itself is centered around the idea that Zaire Williams, who will only have a year left on his contract, will be able to try and start fresh with the Trail Blazers and hopefully live up to his initial top-10 draft hype. Williams will add to the defensive core that the Grizzlies will use to vault themselves back into the upper echelon of the Western Conference.

Given the potential upside, it's a reasonable risk for Memphis to take when securing further assets for their currently depleted frontcourt, while also an opportunity to move their underwhelming lottery talent after yet another lackluster campaign with the club.

Overall, the potential improvement of the defensive prowess of the Grizzlies with the addition of a player such as a healthy Robert Williams III combined with the lob threat between him and Ja Morant should be enough to inspire the club to take a chance on his contract for the next two seasons.

Grade: B-