The 2023–24 NBA season hasn’t even started yet, but the Memphis Grizzlies were dealt another major blow. The Grizzlies will be without their best player, Ja Morant, for the first 25 games of the season. Additionally, backup big man Brandon Clarke will miss most of this season as he recovers from an ACL injury. Now comes the news that starting center Steven Adams will miss this season with a knee injury.
Missing three rotation players, let alone their best player and their two top center options, is sure to hurt them. Especially in a highly competitive Western Conference where they finished second last season. Even then, they lost in the first round to the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. That means that no matter where the Grizzlies finish, they are at risk of being eliminated early.
But there is no guarantee that they will even make the playoffs unless they make an early-season trade to help them weather the storm.
NBA Trades: Grizzlies solve frontcourt woes by trading for Robert Williams
The Portland Trail Blazers made two big trades late in the offseason, which radically reshaped their roster. One of the returns from those deals was former Boston Celtics center Robert Williams. Williams ranks as one of the better centers in the NBA but has struggled with injuries, which made him expendable in a deal to acquire Jrue Holiday.
That deal left Portland with both Williams and Deandre Ayton—two starting centers—who can’t play together. That should make Williams expendable yet again, and the Grizzlies should look to capitalize by trading Adams and two firsts for Williams. Moving on from Adams now after being ruled out for the season might seem like odd timing but if Williams is indeed available, then the Grizzlies should look to upgrade now before another team swoops in.
Adding Williams would give them a more athletic version of Adams, who is four years younger and under contract for a similar amount annually but for three years instead of two. It would cost them two picks, though one would be coming from the Phoenix Suns, minimizing the assets needed for them to make a deal.
Not only would it help Memphis in the short-term but with their need to eventually move on from Adams, his injury might facilitate that. And once Morant comes back, Memphis might be better than they otherwise might’ve been.
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For Portland, they would get two firsts for a player that may not fit into their long-term plans and allow them to add to the already considerable haul they got from the Lillard and Holiday trades. And while Adams won’t play this season, he could still be a player that they could flip later for more assets, making this potential trade a good move for both teams.