Memphis Grizzlies: Time to Let the Tanking Begin?

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The Memphis Grizzlies had lost five games in a row for the first time since November 2010 before beating a bad New York Knicks team. The five straight losses had dropped the Grizzlies to five games under .500 and they are currently sitting 13th in the West. If you look back at the past 10 games, they are only 2-8 and have lost by double digits in four of the losses. Furthermore, six of the eight losses came at home, where this year they have lost a total of 10 games at FedEx Forum. Last year the Grizzlies were 32-9 at home for the season, therefore, they have lost more games at home in 15 games this year than 41 last year. As everyone knows the Grizzlies have been hurt by injuries this year, almost more than any other team. Just recently Mike Conley missed a game with a thigh bruise and Mike Miller left the last game with an apparent knee injury, so we will see how long he is out. Marc Gasol is still out for at least another month, which does not bode well for Memphis making a run at the playoffs. So when a team starts to come apart at the seams the talk turns to looking at the future, especially with this years loaded draft class.

Dec 21, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) shoots a free throw during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies are in a good position when it comes to changing up the roster and looking towards next season and beyond. If you look at the core players currently on the Memphis roster they are all younger than 28. It all starts with Marc Gasol, who turns 29 next month, and he is starting to come into his prime. Then you have Mike Conley, who turned 26 at the start of the season and who is having a career year with 18 points and six assists per game this season. With Gasol and Conley the Grizzlies have two pieces needed to build a championship team. Furthermore, even the bench has youth and skill between Jerryd Bayless (25), Ed Davis (24), Kosta Koufos (24), Jon Leuer (24) and Quincy Pondexter (25). These five guys have all shown flashes of great skills and can be the role players the Grizzlies need to go along with Gasol and Conley. The main decision the Grizzlies have now is do they trade Zach Randolph? Randolph is still playing great basketball this season, averaging 16 points and just less than 10 rebounds per game. Furthermore, Randolph is only 32 years old, still has some good basketball ahead of him. The Grizzlies should be able to grab some young players or possibly a first round pick for next season. If Memphis was creative they could try to package Tayshaun Prince in any Randolph trade, and clear up almost $8 million in cap space next season. The trade deadline is not until Feb. 20, so the Grizzlies do have time to make a decision. However, with the West being as deep as it is this season the Grizzlies could set themselves up for next season and beyond with the choices they make now.

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