NBA Memphis Grizzlies

5 Memphis Grizzlies Players Most Likely To Be Traded

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5 Most Likely Memphis Grizzlies To Be Traded

Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford-USATODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies have been treading water all season long to remain in the playoff hunt despite having only played 12 games this entire season with their projected starting-five. They have full intentions on not only making the playoffs but advancing deep into them. For the Grizzlies to make the deep run they're hoping for they will need to make at least one move before the trade deadline to improve their roster, but to make a trade you have to let someone go. On the following slides you will see who are the players the Grizzlies are most likely to bid farewell to in a trade.

Two weeks ago if you would have asked which Grizzly player needed to go the answer would have been Nick Calathes. But he has played very well in the absence of Mike Conley and proven that he is a very capable backup for the Grizzlies. Now that the backup point guard situation has been settled, Memphis needs to trim some of their wing depth. They are currently playing Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, James Johnson and Mike Miller 18-plus minutes per game over the past six weeks, and the return of Tony Allen is expected after the All-Star break. There will not be enough minutes to spread around once Allen is healthy. Memphis has experimented with Johnson and Prince at the power forward spot some, but if that is going to be a regular occurrence then finding time for Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer off the bench becomes a factor. 

Having too many players doesn't seem like a bad problem to have. The Grizzlies know for sure they are playing Conley, Lee, Prince, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol 25-35 minutes per night. Calathes will get 10-15 minutes per night since he is the only backup point guard, Allen and Johnson have both proven they are effective enough to merit around 20 minutes per game, Miller is their best three-point threat off the bench and Davis, Koufos and Leuer have all proven they deserve time as well. That is 12 players. That will never work in the playoffs when most teams up the minutes of their starters when there are longer breaks between games, and you normally only see eight or nine-man rotations.

Packaging two or more of these following players and acquiring less than they give up in return is vital for them to find a regular rotation. I don't know who will be traded for sure, but I would put money on the fact that one of these five guys is gone before the NBA trade deadline.

Robbie Marbury is an NBA writer for Follow him on Twitter @rmarbury, and add him to your network on Google+

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5. Tony Allen

Tony Allen
Justin Ford-USATODAY Sports

Allen is the least likely Grizzlies player to be traded from this group, because the team covets him -- and most notably his defense -- a lot. He was First-Team All-Defense last season and has been the best on-ball defender in the league for the past several seasons. Allen is 32-years-old, so his best year's are behind him, but his energy can lift the Grizzlies up whenever they go through lulls. Sure, Allen isn't very gifted offensively, and opposing teams will always slack off of him, or hide their weakest defender on him, but his defense creates extra possessions for a Grizzlies offense that isn't that efficient.

There are very few untouchable players in this league, and on the Grizzlies that list is probably just Marc Gasol; but with what Allen brings to their locker room and the excitement he generates throughout the fanbase, Memphis would never move Allen just to clear up a logjam of minutes on the wing. The only way Allen will be moved is if the team finds the right trade partner that gives them more shooting, a young asset, or future first-round picks.

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4. Ed Davis

Ed Davis
Brace Hemmelgarn-USATODAY Sports

Davis falls in the "only if it really helps us out now or you throw in a first-round pick" category with Allen. When the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay last season, the biggest asset they landed in their eyes was Davis. He is a very long and athletic big which is the type of player that they want to have next to Gasol whenever Randolph decides to hang it up or gets too old and his play declines.

Davis is too good of a player for Memphis to lose for nothing, and he also deserves to be playing more than 16 minutes per night. He has posted a player efficiency rating (PER) of 16.87, which is 26th among power forwards, and last season he had a PER of 17.82, which was 20th among power forwards. He is plenty talented enough to play a bigger role, the Grizzlies just don't have the room for him. Memphis having him on their bench is a luxury at this point. Granted, it's a luxury that could help them dearly in the playoffs, but if they could move him with another player to net an upgrade at the small forward spot or a high-end first-round pick, I think the Grizzlies would listen.

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3. Jon Leuer

Jon Leuer
Tim Fuller-USATODAY Sports

The Grizzlies' front office does not want to move Leuer. He is one of the best contracts in the league; he is set to make $967,500 next season and $1.035 million the following season. Leuer's contract is less than you pay an average second-round draft pick, and he is outperforming his deal with a PER of 18.12 and per-36-minute averages of 16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.3 three-pointers made at a 47.4 percent clip. Leuer could be one of the best stretch-fours off the bench in the league if he got more playing time, but the Grizzlies have too many other talented players to give him more minutes.

Memphis really does not want to trade Leuer, but if they could get out of Prince's contract and upgrade the small forward spot then moving Leuer would be better than losing Davis. Memphis might decide that trying to re-sign Davis would not work and keep Leuer instead, but if any team is willing to take on Prince at a $7.7 million price tag they would probably insist on a player with a low cap-number like Leuer's.

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2. Tayshaun Prince

Tayshaun Prince
Mark D. Smith-USATODAY Sports

Prince has emerged as the player that most fans want traded now that Calathes has improved. Prince was instrumental in opening up the Grizzlies' offense last season and allowing the ball to move more freely. He also solidified their already great defense and was a contributing factor in Memphis' run to the Western Conference Finals last year. Prince was also a weakness the San Antonio Spurs decided to exploit in the Western Conference Finals, and that seems to have affected his confidence and made him near unwatchable this season.

Moving Prince is easier said than done, because he is due to make $7.7 million next season, and that is far too much to pay for a below-average player. For Memphis to move Prince they would have to part with a future first-round pick -- which is not happening -- or throw in a better asset with him like Davis, Leuer or the last guy on this list.

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1. Kosta Koufos

Kosta Koufos
Jeff Hanisch-USATODAY Sports

The Grizzlies acquired Koufos in a draft-day trade for Darrell Arthur. At the time it was obvious Memphis won that trade -- the only reason Denver was trading Koufos was because their front office wanted JaVale McGee to play more -- but as the season has progressed the differential in Memphis' victory has widened. Koufos is averaging 2.7 more points per game, 2.7 more rebounds per game, 0.4 more blocks per game and is shooting 8.1 percent better from the field.

The reason why Koufos is the most likely Grizzlies player to be traded is because he can he traded on his own and still receive something of worth in return. Memphis could also trade Davis, but he is a more versatile player and his contract is over at the end of this season which is why Koufos is more likely to go. There are several teams that need a backup big to protect the rim and rebound, and that is what Koufos brings. If Memphis could get a good shooter on a decent contract in return, the Grizzlies would jump all over that kind of offer.