Earlier this week, the Memphis Grizzlies received the devastating news that superstar Ja Morant, who had only just recently made his way back from an initial 25-game suspension to start the year, would be out for the remainder of the season as he opts to undergo surgery for a labrum tear in his right shoulder.
Considering the fact that they are a lowly 14-23 on the season as a whole and have gone just 8-20 without their star guard in tow, the belief among many is that the franchise may now look to punt on the season and, instead, focus their attention on gearing up for 2024-25 and beyond.
Of course, when it comes to teams that opt to embark on such a venture, often they are seen serving as sellers around trade season, and, with less than a month to go between now and February 8's deadline, it's all but certain that many Grizzlies players will at the very least find themselves being mentioned within the rumor mill.
Just recently, in fact, Noah Weber of The Smoking Cuban discussed the concept of pursuing a few of Memphis' players via trade before next month's cut-off date and went as far as to tab fourth-year big Xavier Tillman as a "great buy-low candidate" for the Dallas Mavericks.
Grizzlies big Xavier Tillman labeled 'buy-low candidate' for Mavericks
"Tillman would be a great pickup for Dallas due to the fact that he fearlessly protects the rim. Dereck Lively II is the only Maverick who averages more than one block per game, and Tillman could help provide some tenacity in the paint off the bench.- Noah Weber on Xavier Tillman
Tillman may only be 6-foot-8, but his beefy 245-pound frame is something that the Mavs desperately need down low. They need someone who isn't easily moved in the paint and can also move his feet some when needed.
Tillman can provide that consistently, and his role would be easy as he would just need to protect the rim, rebound, and score occasionally in the post."
Despite being utilized primarily as a tweener big, Tillman's skillset allows him to contribute in many different facets of the game, as he can protect the rim at an efficient rate, score anywhere from the paint to beyond the arc, crash the boards, and even put the ball on the floor and bring it up the court on fastbreaks.
A beloved member of the Grizzlies franchise and a frequent contributor within coach Taylor Jenkins' rotation, on the season the 24-year-old is posting solid per-game averages of 5.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals, and just shy of a block (.9).
Though perhaps not the flashiest of talents, Tillman is a high-energy player who provides top-notch hustle and focuses in on doing all the little things when called upon.
Should Memphis stick to their previously established plan of vying for a Play-In Tournament berth from here on out than it should go without saying that keeping the big man in tow, barring an unexpected incredible offer, should be seen as a must.
However, even if this doesn't turn out to be the case, trading a player like Tillman to a direct division rival seems severely undesierable and, thus, is something that shouldn't be expected to happen anytime soon.