While reading Geoff Calkins' column in the Commercial Appeal this morning, something kept rattling around in my head. No, it wasn't the loose screw that many people have warned me about. It was an idea -- nay, a vision. A vision of what the future could be. It is a future that includes lots of winning seasons, followed by playoff success and even some title aspirations down the road.
Calkins' piece focuses on the acquisition of Kansas State's Michael Beasley, who was an absolute monster in college and projects to be a tremendous player at the next level as a tweener forward with good rebounding ability and above average range on the offensive end. Calkins thinks that there is one thing the Grizzlies need and one thing only.
But here's the thing: The Grizzlies need more than a perfectly good, defensible pick at No. 5. They need a star, a perennial All-Star and, gee, Chris Wallace, are any of those available in this draft?
So, the Grizzlies need not just a star, but a perennial All-Star to boot, out of this draft, do they? A guy that is a winner, a leader, a marketable star that will bring fans to the FedEx Forum and bring attention from around the league, and get loads of pundits on ESPN to talk about him and show Sportscenter highlights of him. That is what is needed, right? They need the next LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant.
Calkins does a very good job of illustrating all the reasons why the Memphis Grizzlies should not "settle" for the "0% chance he's a bust" Kevin Love at the #5 spot in the draft and should instead focus on doing whatever is necessary to trade up to the Miami Heat's #2 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft in order to grab Michael Beasley. In fact, there is but one hitch in his proposal. That hitch is that the Heat are reportedly after O.J. Mayo and would like to trade down to acquire him, rather than watch Pat Riley's head explode dealing with Beasley's questionable maturity. So, if O.J. Mayo is still there at #5, then the Grizzlies could trade him, along with Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry to Miami for the #2 pick (Beasley) and the services of Mark Blount and Marcus Banks to make the salaries match up.
Is that a smart deal though? I mean, both Miller and Lowry are fan favorites, as well as solid contributors at the NBA level. O.J. Mayo has been projected to be an amazing player in his own right at the next level. So that's Mayo/Miller/Lowry for Beasley/Blount/Banks for those of you keeping score at home. That's 3 solid contributors for 1 potential All-Star, 1 bad contract and 1 point guard who logs a lot of playing time for losers, but not for winning clubs. Why not just keep Mayo, if that is the case? Hasn't he been "The Next Big Thing" since he was in the 7th grade? Was the move from PG to SG that detrimental to his overall ability?
Some of you may remember that I was pretty hard on Mayo in a previous post. After talking to a few people who know far more about scouting talent than myself, I have softened my stance on him somewhat. They feel that Mayo, not Beasley, is more likely to be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. There are numerous things that Beasley was able to do in college that he won't be able to duplicate at the next level unless he is the second coming of Charles Barkley. Supposedly, that won't be the case for Mayo, who (like Kevin Love) already had a game predicated on playing at the highest level in the world. If the Grizzlies are so fortunate as to have him fall in their laps at #5, then why wouldn't they just take him and use Miller/Lowry in a trade for yet another quality player? Wouldn't that make more sense? Just checking.
For me, this basically boils down to whether or not Michael Beasley > O.J. Mayo. If Beasley truly is the next Kobe Bryant level talent, then I am 100% behind moving up to take him. Why is Miami so eager to get rid of him then? Shouldn't the real question be, why doesn't Miami just take Mayo at #2? Because they want to gain more assets by getting someone to trade up for somebody that they aren't going to draft anyways. You don't think that Pat Riley got all those shiny baubles on his fingers by showing his entire hand this early in the game, do you? If they want O.J., then they can bloody well draft him at #2. If they want Beasley, then there he is. I can't understand why the Grizzlies should bolster the overall talent level of the Heat (again) so that they can draft the next Antawn Jamison (my prediction for Beasley's career).
If O.J. Mayo is there at #5, then I'd like to think that Chris Wallace will take him, given that he has the chance to be that All-Star player that Memphis is so desperately wanting, needing, begging for. If Mayo is gone (as I expect him to be), then why not take Kevin Love (who I know worked out for the Heat, but don't believe that they intend to trade down to get), who has been described as everything from "a bigger and better Shane Battier" to a unique hybrid of Elton Brand and Bill Laimbeer? Geoff Calkins' co-host on their 730 ESPN morning radio show, Gary Parrish, has repeatedly said that Love might not ever been an All-Star, but he will be a solid starter for his entire career and that there is virtually no chance that he'll be anything remotely resembling a "bust".
If those are the choices that are laid before me, then I say "No" to Beasley at that price and "Yes" to either Mayo or Love. Then the question becomes, what if the draft goes Rose, Mayo, Beasley, Love....then what? That's a post for another day, but I'll leave a poll up to gauge your thoughts.
Update: Chris Herrington has his own thoughts about trading for Beasley on Beyond the Arc.