The Memphis Grizzlies may be a little tense following their 3-5 start. Things have not gone their way, and many are wondering if their resistance to direction the NBA is heading is going to come back to haunt them. In what feels like a move to shake things up, the Grizzlies traded Jarnell Stokes and Beno Udrih to the Miami Heat for James Ennis and Mario Chalmers.
In case you hadn’t been counting, the trade marked the end of Chalmers’ seven year run with the Heat. Seven! How time went by like that, I’ll never know.
Of course, things got awkward after the trade when Pat Riley said that they would never trade a player who could help them win a title for money reasons. Ouch. On the other hand, you look at Tyler Johnson and the season he’s having while playing for $3.5 million less than Chalmers, and that the Heat were trying to find a third team to take Udrih and Stokes, and you wonder if that’s really the case.
Speaking of Stokes, it’s hard to make much of him. As a 6’9 power forward, he shot 56.8 percent last season, but only in 6.6 minutes per game. This season, he’s played just four minutes in two games. Unfortunately, it seems that Stokes will takeover Ennis’ role of sparing play with Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts taking up much of the front court minutes. Seeing more of Stokes on this team seems a little unlikely.
For Memphis, this feels like a move to shake things up. Chalmers and Udrih can both hit shots, but the Grizzlies may be hoping that the change can spark the team. Being a little younger with a little more defensive prowess, Chalmers could provide Mike Conley with a viable backup. Again, Udrih is still a fine player, but at 33 years old and his numbers down from last year, moving on was not a terrible idea.
In all likelihood, this trade won’t realistically change much for Memphis. If they were in trouble before, they’re still in trouble now. Chalmers is, like Udrih, and fine player: he doesn’t hurt you, but doesn’t put you over the top. It would be hard to separate the Grizzlies just “getting it together” from giving Chalmers credit for their recovery. If anything, it would be like a placebo effect with some fresh blood in the rotation.
For the Heat, the move does even less. With the emergence of Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson to go with the pieces they already have, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to get overly attached to Udrih. Same goes for Stokes. Really, it’s not as if trading for either player immediately puts them on a championship trajectory as much as the Heat can now replace or improve upon Chalmers’ production for less. As useful as Udrih is, it’s hard to see this as being more about basketball than the money.
Essentially, the Heat and Grizzlies swapped useful rotation players along with a player they each weren’t using. Nothing about this is a blockbuster move for both sides, but it’s hard to say that either team got worse. Sometimes when you’re making trades that’s the most important part.