Monday, January 6, 2014

Reports: Grizzlies trade Jerryd Bayless for Courtney Lee, 2nd-round pick

Posted By on Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Hope Bayless likes wearing green.

Super late to this party because I wrote a piece about Nick Calathes and then took a nap yesterday afternoon, and I'm just now free to write about it. I don't have much to add to what's already been said around the blog-o-sphere about the trade, but hey, it beats arguing on the Internet about Nick Calathes!

In a surprise Sunday-afternoon trade first tweeted and then reported by ESPN's Marc Stein, the Grizzlies are reported to have struck a deal with the Boston Celtics that would send Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless to Boston in exchange for Courtney Lee and a second-round pick.

Lee is on a mid-level exception deal that sees him earning somewhere around $5.5 million a year for this year and the next two, so the assumption is that the Grizzlies are using the trade exception generated by the Rudy Gay deal last season to swallow Lee's salary and make the numbers work.

Lee's a good player, if slightly overpaid (which everyone else has already reported too) and as former BTA Fearless Leader Chris Herrington notes in his remarks on the trade, this move is just as much about next season as it is about this season: Bayless would be gone after this year, leaving the Grizzlies to acquire (yet another) shooter in free agency, while Lee is on a multi-year deal, is shooting 3's at a rate well above his career average, and is also a much better defender than Bayless.

So I think the trade is a win, especially since it sends a draft pick back the Grizzlies' way—even if it's "just" a second rounder, a draft pick is a glorious thing to have in today's NBA. But even without that: Lee is a better player than Bayless, period. He can immediately slot into the wing rotation for the Grizzlies and contribute, potentially at a very high level.

If anything, this trade proves the Grizzlies are still in "win now" mode for the next two seasons, trying everything they can to retool around the core players while they're still here and still playing well. It's the first concrete evidence that the front office is determined to make this year (and next year) count instead of packing up shop for this year and trying for a draft pick. I think it's the right decision. The Grizzlies' core isn't getting any younger, and waiting for next year is a dangerous game to play—think of all the injuries we've seen this year. Who is to say next year would be any better? There are too many variables involved.

So we know where they stand now: they're going for it this year, Marc Gasol injury or not. And I think that's where most Griz fans (except Iggy, who used up his quota of "Tank this season" comments on this blog and had to order more from Eastern Conference HQ) want to be.

The other wrinkle: the deal leaves Nick Calathes as the only backup point guard on the roster headed into tomorrow's game against the San Antonio Spurs, which should be... interesting... but the Grizzlies will cross that bridge when they get to it, I guess.

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