David Aldridge of NBA.com had this interesting note in his most recent column:
But one mame that is eminently available is Memphis’s Hasheem Thabeet, who isn’t one of the ’10 free agent signees but is getting shopped hard by the Grizzlies, who have their center of the future in Marc Gasol. So the Grizz are looking to cut bait with the second pick in the ’09 Draft, Video who’s already had an NBA D-League stint, as soon as possible.
Hmm … maybe you can trade him for Tyreke Evans? I kid, I kid Chris Wallace.
But Thabeet would undoubtedly be an intriguing pickup for the Pistons.
- Hasheem Thabeet
- Player option/ early termination
- Team option
Thabeet, of course, was the No. 2 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, taken one spot after Blake Griffin and ahead of players like Evans, the Rookie of the Year, Steph Curry and Brandon Jennings. He hasn’t played much in Memphis because, frankly, he’s not polished offensively, his footwork isn’t great all the time, he can be a bit … uh … soft and Memphis has great frontcourt players in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol absorbing most of the minutes at those spots.
But his positive attributes, especially from the Pistons’ perspective? Thabeet is really big and still young. He also blocks shots and rebounds. For his career, he’s averaging 9.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per-36 minutes. He would immediately be a defensive upgrade over Jason Maxiell or Chris Wilcox or Charlie Villanueva because he can protect the rim, and he’d also be a potential long-term building block. Thabeet could be a great compliment to Greg Monroe up front, since Monroe is not a shot-blocking presence at this point in his career. The best part is Thabeet would have a full season to sit behind Ben Wallace, get beat up a little in practice and learn from one of the best defensive big men of this era.
So, the question is not about fit. Thabeet would obviously be a fit. But do the Pistons have what it takes to pry him from Memphis?
I think it’s pretty obvious what the Grizzlies want in return: to be free from the nearly $10 million in salary Thabeet is owed for the rest of this season and next season. Memphis has to find enough room to re-sign Marc Gasol, possibly Zach Randolph and figure out whether they are going to extend O.J. Mayo or trade him. They also have smaller decisions to make on players like Sam Young, a promising second round pick last year, and Demarre Carroll, who both are in line for possible extensions.
The Grizzlies have a lot of salary already committed to Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, they’d be silly not to try and lock up Gasol and it’s pretty clear Randolph has been a good fit with the franchise, so bringing him back makes some sense too. Thabeet’s money would be better used in that capacity than in being invested in a seldom-used project center sitting on the bench.
Wilcox and Summers give Memphis two contracts they can shed at season’s end, and allows them to save about $1 million this year in salary. Plus, they get a second round pick that could be pretty decent considering the Pistons currently look like a team that won’t win many games.
I have no idea what the market for Thabeet is. On the one hand, he was the second pick in the draft just over a year ago. On the other, he’s been pretty bad and is the highest draft pick ever assigned to the D-League. Maybe Memphis is hoping to get a first round pick for him, in which case it would be a bad move for the Pistons, even if they had lottery protections on it. But if the Grizz just want salary relief, the Pistons can definitely make a trade happen and see if Thabeet can become a competent NBA player given consistent minutes.