Now the Memphis front office is trying to convince its fans these trades were not merely salary dumps, that the Grizzlies are still contenders.
Controlling owner Robert Pera said the moves have made Memphis “a far more dangerous playoff team today.”
“This team was built for playoff basketball,” Pera told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “In playoff basketball, getting defensive stops and creating high percentage scoring opportunities under pressure becomes much more important. And that is what this team can do best. Between (Prince's) winning pedigree, the (league's) best perimeter defense, and (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph) returning back to the focal point of the offense, I believe we are a far more dangerous playoff team today.”
When the Grizzlies got past the first round of the playoffs two years ago, they upset No. 1-seeded San Antonio in the opening round and then lost to the Thunder 4-3 in a magnificent Western Conference semifinal series that could have gone either way.
That's also when Memphis learned it could survive without Gay, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in mid-February that year.
Then again, those Grizzlies had O.J. Mayo and Shane Battier, who are now with Dallas and Miami, respectively.