What is the Jeff Green Trade Really About? Sibling Rivalry

It’s not official yet, but the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies have reportedly come to terms on the basic elements of a trade that will end up with the Grizzlies acquiring a dynamic scorer, 6’8 swingman Jeff Green. Details are still being worked out, but assuming everything goes through, Memphis – according to at least one neutral national NBA writer (Bill Simmons) – is now a favorite to win the NBA’s Western Conference:

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It’s hard to fathom isn’t it? Memphis. Potential Western Conference Champions. Memphis. Potential NBA Finals participant. Memphis. Potential NBA Champion. It’s been talked about all year – or at least since the Grizz got out of the gates with a 21-5 record. But now with yet another significant piece added – and comments like Simmons’ – it really feels possible. It’s beginning to sink in. For the moment, the Grizz are legitimate contenders for the NBA title.

So clearly this is about trying to win the NBA Championship, as hard as that is for a Memphian to fathom. But it’s just as much about next summer – when Marc Gasol will become an unrestricted free agent. Perhaps the most valuable free agent on the market.

Gasol loves Memphis – and is saying the right things to assure Memphis fans:

“I’ve been already through one,” Gasol says of the summer of 2011, when as a restricted free agent he re-signed with the Grizzlies for $58 million over four years, “and I did not especially enjoy it. I don’t know how I’m going to feel in July. I really don’t. This is the next five years of my life and I’m going to go all in. Whatever team you play for, you’ve always got to feel like you represent that team, that you’ve got to play for it. Because that’s the way we grew up in Spain. You play for the city. You play for a way of doing things. It’s not about you. I do this for them. I play for the city, for the franchise or whatever. You’ve got to have that pride that comes with it.”

So maybe Gasol is just a real Memphian – and maybe he’s all in no matter what. Maybe it’s a moot point – maybe he’d re-sign here if the Grizz flopped and proved to be pretenders instead of contenders. The Grizz can’t afford to take that chance.

The Grizz brass have to know that Gasol wants rings. After all, his older brother Pau – has rings. Like Peyton and Eli Manning, and every other pair of siblings before them, you have to know that Marc has some kind of burning desire to match or out do his big brother. That’s just how it goes when brothers compete – in the same endeavor – playing the same position. Sure, Marc’s a great player in his own right – and arguably better than Pau – but Pau has rings. Marc has no rings.

The Grizzlies have to convince Marc Gasol that they’re be a real contender. Real contenders have dynamic, athletic scorers on the wing. The Grizzlies are on the precipice. They have to take their absolute best shot, right now. There might not be another shot. The whole thing could come apart. If Gasol leaves. That’s what bringing Green in is about – obviously. Saying – hey – we might win the whole freaking thing right now. This move is about adding another crucial piece to the 4 man core (Allen, Conley, Randolph, Gasol). Now, there’s a solid, no questions asked, starting 5. Now, the Grizzlies can make that run. Take their shot.

The Grizzlies are trying to go from plucky, upstart, grit grind, underdog – to real NBA contender. It appears with the Green trade they may have done just that.

Big brother beware.

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