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VOL. 133 | NO. 124 | Thursday, June 21, 2018


A myriad of possibilities for Grizzlies in NBA Draft

By Don Wade

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Rumor. Speculation. Gossip. Yes, there is all of that heading into the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 21, at the Barclays Center in New York. So take your pick from the following: The Memphis Grizzlies will hold on to their No. 4 overall pick. Or they will trade up. Or they will trade down.

They will swing for a home run and risk falling down and striking out. Or they will shorten up and make sure they at least hit a single by making a “safe” choice.

It’s all out there, just about every possibility a fan could imagine, with the names of the potential players and teams spinning round and round.

Memphis Grizzlies and general manager Chris Wallace have a lot of opportunity – and much risk – ahead of them on NBA Draft night. (Daily News File/Houston Cofield)

“Don’t believe everything you hear and read,” said Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, who may or may not have final say on what the Grizzlies do.

Regardless where the real power lies in the Grizzlies’ front office and how much input from controlling owner Robert Pera factors in the decision, Wallace is not wrong when it comes to the smokescreens that accompany every NBA Draft.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know the degree to which individual reports are impacted by teams and player agents wanting to get a message out, and the degree to which those reporting this “news” are complicit with any given agenda.

Consider the case of one player almost sure to still be available at No. 4 when the Grizzlies make their selection – assuming they don’t trade the pick. Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. has a back surgery in his past and was unable to hold a recent workout because of muscle spasms that made just getting out of bed difficult.

Couple this with Porter’s handlers reportedly playing coy with his medical information, and Porter becomes the biggest gamble of players widely deemed to have Top-5 talent. For this reason, many mock drafts now have Porter sliding down in the lottery – perhaps all the way to No. 9 and the New York Knicks.

Yet, there has been rumor and speculation – there are those words again – that the Grizzlies might like Porter enough to take the huge gamble and pick Porter at No. 4 or trade back and then take him despite the medical red flags.

Porter would be an especially risky pick for Memphis given how poorly the signing of free agent Chandler Parsons for four years and $94 million has turned out to this point; Parsons was known to have a history of knee problems. The Grizzlies signed him anyway and those knee issues have continued since coming to the Grizzlies.

Another rumor: The Grizzlies find a deal in which they can unload Parsons and his contract.

Most observers seem to agree Phoenix will use the No. 1 overall pick on DeAndre Ayton, but after that there is mostly just guesswork.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic and Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson are all considered possible choices for the Grizzlies, but any could be gone at No. 2 to Sacramento or No. 3 to Atlanta – assuming those teams don’t trade back in the draft. So if the Grizzlies are involved in a trade, expect to know later rather than sooner.

“Generally, the draft-day trades are done pretty close to on the clock,” Wallace said.

And then there’s this: Few of the projected top lottery picks have reportedly worked out for the Grizzlies. Which potentially puts more mystery/risk into the process.

“Last year I don’t think we had Dillon Brooks or Ivan Rabb in for workouts,” Wallace said of players that went in the second round and Memphis acquired via trade. “That’s not a deal-breaker. Boston took Paul Pierce (10th overall in 1998) without a workout.”

The Grizzlies have held numerous workouts for players expected to be drafted much later; they hold the No. 32 overall pick, too, and Wallace says, “I think we’ll have a helluva player at 32, too.”

Optimism is good. But the Grizzlies have not drafted and kept a productive player in the Top 5 since Mike Conley at No. 4 in 2007 and everyone fears the disaster that was Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2 in 2009. Not to mention taking Kevin Love fifth overall in 2008 and trading him to Minnesota essentially for No. 3 pick O.J. Mayo.

Love is a five-time All-Star. Mayo has been out of the league for two years. So fans fret.

“They have most of the names,” Wallace said of mock drafts and stories full of speculation. “Sometimes not in the right order. Yeah, there is misinformation around the draft. But it’s a pretty simple process. Teams ahead of you are going to take who they can take and you hopefully have the remaining guys in the right order.

“If you do, you’ll do well. No matter what mock drafts say.”

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