NBA Trades: Grizzlies land an all-star in this proposed deal with Wolves

Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies and Derrick Rose (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies and Derrick Rose (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Memphis Grizzlies were forced to start the 2023–24 NBA season shorthanded after starting center Steven Adams was ruled out for the year. He’ll join star Ja Morant, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season, and backup big man Brandon Clarke, who is recovering from an ACL tear on the Grizzlies inactive list.

Those absences will hurt the Grizzlies early, at least until Morant is clear of his suspension, though they will still have holes in their frontcourt. That may force Memphis to make a trade for frontcourt help, with one option having already been discussed here on Hoops Habit. However, there is another potential option involving the Minnesota Timberwolves.

NBA Trades: The Grizzlies trade for Karl-Anthony Towns in mock trade.

With the Grizzlies in need of front-court reinforcements and the Timberwolves reportedly willing to trade star Karl-Anthony Towns, a deal between the two teams is technically possible. However, to make a deal for Towns work, Memphis would have to try and match salaries without including their three best players, Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Desmond Bane.

Fortunately, they can do so by packaging Adams, Clarke, and Luke Kennard, along with two firsts for the former number-one overall pick. With Adams out for the season and Clarke likely out for at least a few months, the Grizzlies could use some front-court help.

Towns and Jackson Jr. might be an awkward fit in that neither are true centers nor are strong rebounders. Still, with Towns locked in for five seasons, the Grizzlies could gamble on his talent and make a win-now move for him. With Morant back, Memphis would boast a big four with plenty of shooting around him and enough offensive firepower to compete with any team in the West.

For Minnesota, it seems increasingly likely that they will move on from Towns, with rising superstar Anthony Edwards’ rookie extension set to kick in after this season. If they don’t, then they would be paying Edwards, Towns, and Rudy Gobert at least $35 million each, in addition to backup big man Naz Reid, who would make $14 million a season.

That is incredibly expensive for a small market team and the Wolves could cut costs by trading Towns and replacing him with Reid in the starting lineup. As for the hypothetical trade package, Adams won’t help them immediately, though they could potentially flip him later for a team in need of a starting center.

Clarke should be back sometime this season and could help Minnesota replace Towns while Kennard gives them some much-needed shooting. Throw in two firsts, including one from Phoenix, and the Wolves would likely agree to the deal but what about Memphis? Finding a stop-gap center option would probably be their first preference.

The Grizzlies may use the opportunity afforded by Adam’s injury to consolidate some of their depth to acquire another star. It would definitely be a swing-for-the-fences move but it might be a move that they’d consider.