Boasting a record of 2-9 through 11 games played, it goes without saying that the Memphis Grizzlies are amid quite a lowly start to their 2023-24 campaign.
After having finished the last two seasons with the second-best record in the Western Conference standings, despite the guaranteed absence of Ja Morant after being issued a 25-game suspension to kick things off, coming into this year Taylor Jenkins' club was still considered a legitimate title contender as the odds-makers believed them to have the eighth-best chances of winning it all.
Fast forward to nearly a month into action, however, and as a result of their lowly on-court production coupled with their slew of absentees Memphis is by far the worst team in the association, though, oddly enough, hope isn't lost on them just yet.
To some, a practical solution for the team to try and salvage the rest of their season could be by adding on some extra firepower to their talent pool, for not only could such a maneuver help improve their play in the immediate future but also once Morant makes his return to action in mid-December.
Over the last few weeks, a popular idea amongst fans and media pundits alike has been for GM Zach Kleiman and company to consider scouring the trade market for a quality replacement option at the pivot position for primary starter Steven Adams, who just before October 25's opener was ruled out for the entirety of the campaign as he opted to undergo season-ending knee surgery.
While there have been a bevy of names mentioned as being quality options worth considering, recently Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey constructed a hypothetical blockbuster that would see two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic heading to Grind City.
Trade proposal sends Bulls star Nikola Vucevic to the Grizzlies
The proposed transaction reads as follows:
While the recent addition of Bismack Biyombo has certainly proven to have a positive impact on the Grizzlies, as he finds himself serving as a sound rim protector (1.2 blocks per game) and as a board gobbler extraordinaire (9.3 rebounds per game, 5.0 coming on the offensive end), considering his limited upside as an old-school and aging big, looking for an upgrade at the position still might not be all that bad of an idea.
To Bailey, Vucevic could be said upgrade.
"Despite the fact that he's 33, probably a minus defender at this point in his career and a below-average three-point shooter over the last two-plus seasons, Vučević's low-post scoring, rebounding and passing still make him an upgrade inside.- Andy Bailey on possible Vucevic trade
He could be a solid pick-and-roll partner with Ja Morant once his 25-game suspension is up too.
And while the team's 2-8 start feels bad, the parity in the middle of the West could help the Grizzlies stay in the hunt for a play-in spot until that suspension ends."
Now in his 13 season in the association, Vucevic still finds himself producing at an All-Star caliber level, as he's posting impressive averages of 17.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and just shy of a block per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the field.
Of course, as Bailey pointed out, on the surface this proposal comes with some risks when it relates to the outbound player department, specifically the idea of giving up the career 43.5 percent three-point marksman Luke Kennard while the team has struggled to effectively space the floor (rank sixth-worst in the association in long-range percentage).
However, the two-guard has been far from his usual self in this area of the game, as he's converting on just 37.0 percent of his attempts from deep and has struggled mightily with his overall conversion rate (36.2 percent shooting from the field) despite regularly seeing open looks.
In turn, with the way he's been playing parting ways with both Kennard and Ziaire Williams at this point wouldn't necessarily make the team all that much worse on the offensive side of the ball, though adding a talent such as Vucevic could easily make them significantly better.
As Bailey pointed out, the $60 million big's presence down low would likely draw defenders away from the perimeter which, as a result, could create cleaner looks for the likes of Desmond Bane, John Konchar, Santi Aldama and the rest of the remaining long-distance shooters, while his underrated passing abilities (has averaged 3.5 assists over the past six seasons) could aid in more kick-out opportunities as well.
As for his defensive abilities, though he may not be a shot-blocking savant he still boasts a solid career defensive rating of 106 and a positive defensive box plus-minus. His big body paired with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. in the frontcourt could make for a truly menacing wall down low similar to the one fans are used to seeing with Adams manning the middle.
At this point in time, the Grizzlies should be highly interested in finding ways to both stay afloat and start building up their roster for a second-half push with Morant slated to be back in the fold.
Acquiring a talent like Vucevic in a deal such as this could be a way for them to do both.