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Memphis may not blow it up after Conley extension

Jan 15, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings

As we mentioned Friday night, Chris Broussard of ESPN reported Friday night that the Nuggets are not interested in the deal the Knicks were trying to put together which would land them Carmelo Anthony, with O.J. Mayo going to Denver. It’s a major sigh of relief for Grizzlies fans who would have been doubly-screwed in such a trade. They would have been used as a cash dump for the two teams, while trading Mayo solely so that owner Michael Heisley wouldn’t deal with criticism for not re-signing him when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2012.

It’s a close call because multiple sources in Memphis confirmed that Memphis GM Chris Wallace has long been interested in both J.R. Smith of Denver and Anthony Randolph of the Knicks. Both of those players could be disastrous in Memphis, as an Anthony Randolph-Hasheem Thabeet combination would resort in quite possibly the lowest basketball IQ between two players in the history of the league and bringing J.R. Smith to Memphis, Tennessee alongside Zach Randolph and Tony Allen would be like throwing a fire cracker down a mine shaft covered in nitroglycerin with live ammunition at the bottom, no matter how great a force in the community Randolph has been. (It should also be noted several reports have stated Randolph was the voice of reason in the Tony Allen-O.J. Mayo dispute and he’s had no issues since joining the Grizzlies. None.)

For New York, it’s back to holding the line, unwilling to give up too much of a playoff team to get Melo, knowing full well they may have the opportunity to simply snatch him up in free agency. It’s a hard bargain Donnie Walsh is trying to drive, but he knows he can’t get desperate. After all, that’s Billy King’s job, apparently.

Meanwhile, Alan Hahn of Newsday reports that the Grizzlies fully intend to match any offer for Marc Gasol in free agency. That sound you hear is the biggest sigh of relief ever from the Grizzlies contingent (and yes, they have fans, thanks). Keeping Gasol is far and away more important to the Grizzlies than keeping Mayo, despite Mayo’s upside and scoring punch. Gasol is a rising center in the league, already a borderline All-Star and with a bigger role without Zach Randolph potentially, could be an even bigger star if not asked to simply facilitate the offense, which he already does extremely well.

These two moves together could help Heisley to keep his promise that he would keep the core of the Grizzlies together, including Zach Randolph, should he decide to commit the money to this team. But for that to happen three things have to happen. One, the Grizzlies have to make the playoffs, to get the town to give a crap about them. Second, the fans have to start coming to the actual games. And finally, they have to not receive a better offer for Mayo. Because it’s clear they’re shopping him, despite what they say publicly. It’s a good not great core for the Grizzlies, but it’s got massive potential with Rudy Gay becoming a star and Mike Conley turning into a legit point guard. With some upgrades they could compete. But that’s if the team doesn’t detonate it first. These two reports give the fans hope that won’t happen.

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