Grizzlies looking for deal if the price right
Wallace: Team seeking offense, not long contracts
By Ronald Tillery
Posted January 5, 2010 at midnight
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Earning a postseason berth hasn't been one of the Grizzlies' stated goals for this season.
But privately, they have made appearing in the playoffs a mission.
To that end, the Grizzlies' effort to improve the team's depth is ongoing. Memphis has three first-round picks in the 2010 NBA draft and is peddling its two late-round selections in an attempt to add scoring off the bench.
The Griz will not take a player whose deal extends beyond this season if they indeed consummate a deal. Although they are willing to trade draft picks because of the team's youth, the Griz are not offering their own 2010 selection.
Memphis' first-round picks that are owed from Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers are in play.
The process began earlier this season when the Grizzlies approached tonight's opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, about a potential trade involving forward Travis Outlaw.
According to league sources, the Blazers weren't interested in swapping Outlaw merely for draft picks so the deal quickly fizzled. It was the second time since last season that the Griz expressed interest in Outlaw, who is out another two months while recovering from a broken bone in his left foot.
Outlaw is one of several injured players expected to sit out the Grizzlies' final road game against the Blazers. Centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla are done for the season. Forwards Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez aren't expected back until late January while LaMarcus Aldridge will sit out this week with an ankle sprain.
The Grizzlies are healthy but fear that an injury can derail what has become a promising season partly because of their lack of depth.
Since their failed bid to acquire Outlaw, the Griz whiffed at signing free-agent guard Von Wafer. The former Houston Rocket reached a buyout with a Greek team last month but then failed his physical with the Grizzlies.
That development led Memphis to negotiations with the New York Knicks about maligned guard Nate Robinson. Team insiders confirmed a recent New York Newsday report that the Griz and Knicks agreed in principle to exchange Robinson for guard Marcus Williams and a draft pick.
The deal died because of Robinson's veto. Robinson is in the last year of a qualifying offer with the Knicks therefore he has to approve any trade, according to league rules.
Griz general manager Chris Wallace wouldn't confirm or deny any trade discussions. Wallace would only say that the Griz are active and will remain so until the league's February trade deadline.
"We would like to add to our offensive firepower off the bench but we want to do so on our terms," Wallace said. "We don't want to complicate our long-term team salary obligations and potentially detract from our ability to sign Rudy Gay."
Gay turned down a multi-year contract extension starting at $10 million. He will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Griz are also planning for free agency involving Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in 2011, and future contract extensions for Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo.
Tip-in: A 9-4 record in the month of December was strong enough to make Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins the NBA's Western Conference coach of the month.
The award is the first for Hollins and fifth time a Grizzlies coach has received the honor. Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello each won the monthly award twice while coaching the Grizzlies.
Said Hollins: "I say congratulations to the coaching staff and to the players. It's a team effort. Without the team doing what they're doing there's no award. It's a testament to how we're growing and becoming a team."
Only the Los Angeles Lakers at 12-3 had a better December than did the Grizzlies, whose 9-4 mark was the sixth-best monthly record in team history. Three of the victories came over division leaders (Dallas, Cleveland and Denver).
Two former Memphis Tigers point guards were also honored Monday. Chicago's Derrick Rose was named Eastern Conference player of the week. Tyreke Evans of Sacramento was named Western Conference rookie of the month.
-- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353