As the Memphis Grizzlies weigh a move over the next couple weeks, Gorgui Dieng has surfaced as a name to watch.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Memphis Grizzlies are a .500 team (16-16) and within range of a playoff spot in the Western Conference (10th place). The question they have to ask themselves is whether they are buyers or sellers ahead of the NBA trade deadline on March 25 … or if it’s possible to do a little of both.
In his most recent power rankings piece filled with trade speculation nuggets, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote this about the Grizzlies:
"“Multiple front office executives cited center Gorgui Dieng as the name to watch. Dieng is 31 and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he’s a solid two-way big who can hit spot-up 3s, make smart plays with the pass, and grind on defense.“Dieng makes $17.3 million, which could be a tough number to match. But with a limited trade market, any team looking for a big may not have better options unless they hold out hope for a buyout candidate.”"
O’Connor prefaced Dieng as a name to watch by pointing to the eventual return of forward Jaren Jackson Jr. When that happens, sometime during the second half of the season, the Grizzlies’ frontcourt will be even more crowded.
Is Gorgui Dieng an appealing option for other teams?
Over 22 games this season (one start), Dieng is averaging 7.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 16.9 minutes per game. He’s shooting 51.9 percent from the floor and 47.9 percent from 3-point range. As has been the case earlier in his career, when the Minnesota Timberwolves never quite gave him the shot he deserved, Dieng’s per-36 minute numbers are pretty good this year: 16.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks.
Dieng is 31 years old, and as O’Connor said, he’s making $17.3 million this year, the final year of his contract. That salary will be a tough match in a trade, but the expiring contract aspect shouldn’t be dismissed. In a trade market that likely won’t be robust, Dieng should be an appealing target for teams in need of a big man who isn’t deadweight in any area.