Report: Grizzlies Looking To Acquire Luol Deng Or Jeff Green

If you don’t think Marc Gasol‘s impending free agency this summer isn’t at least partially the reason the Grizzlies are looking to upgrade their wing rotations, then you don’t understand how insecure small market teams feel when their stars are coming up for a new deal. League sources — aren’t they always — tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com the Grizzlies are looking to trade for Luol Deng or Jeff Green before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

Here’s Stein:

The Grizzlies, looking to bolster their scoring options on the wing in the ever-competitive Western Conference, are actively trying to obtain either Miami’s Luol Deng or Boston’s Jeff Green via trade ahead of the Feb. 19 trade deadline, according to league sources.

No deal is imminent in either case, sources said, but it has become clear the Grizzlies are intent on upgrading their wing rotation before the deadline in a conference where teams behind third-place Memphis (25-10) in the standings have already made notable in-season additions — such as Dallas (Rajon Rondo) and Houston (Corey Brewer and Josh Smith) — and where Oklahoma City has yet to move into playoff positions.

Stein also mentins the Grizzlies will likely use Tayshuan Prince‘s $7.7 million expiring contract and future draft picks to facilitate the trade.

Deng signed a two-year, $19.9 million deal with the Heat in the offseason, but they’ve struggled to a 15-20 start on the year, and with so little in their draft coffers after almost a half decade of paying the Big Three and wheeling to sign peripheral pieces to plug holes in their lineup, it might make sense to ditch any chance at playoff succcess to start stocking up a bit more for the future.

The Celtics can’t wait to unload the 28-year-old Green since they’ve fully committed to a rebuild after trading Rondo to the Mavs. Green will make $9.2 million this year and has a player option for $9.2 million next year.

So far, we don’t know if the Grizzlies — No. 3 in the West at 25-10 — really need the upgrade Stein is talking about. Yes, Prince’s shooting can pinch Memphis’ spacing, and he’s no where near the defender he once was, but this is more a biproduct of the Western Conference’s competitiveness.

Even after starting 25-10, despite missing Zach Randolph for the last eight games with a swollen right knee — he’s currently listed as out indefinitely,” and they’ve played .500 ball in his absence (4-4) — they still feel the need to improve, or pretend to improve. Right now they’re ranked No. 11 in offensive and defensive rating, per NBA.com, and we love how they slow it down (they’re No. 27 in the league for pace) and out execute other teams with suffocating defense and pin-point interior passing; it’s a team ethos that’s the exact opposite of almost every other contender in the Association.