As you can see all...over...the...sidebar (seriously, can we stop now?) Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Blazers and Grizzlies have been discussing a potential deal. Author Adrian "Bet You Can't Spell" Wojnarwoski says specifically that the talks have been protracted, are more or less stalled, and that a trade does NOT appear imminent, but that's not going to stop gums from flapping. (Is there a more coy sports-related article than the one that says, "Here...this trade is not happening right now so there's no need to discuss it. Just thought I'd let you know..."?) So let's have it out.
The proposed deal sends Travis Outlaw and Sergio Rodriguez to Memphis for Mike Conley, Hakim Warrick, and Javaris Crittendon.
There are several levels to this potential move.
The single most important factor is how the Blazers view Conley. Forget this "He's Greg Oden's friend" stuff. The Blazers could sign Greg's high school prom date and Charles Barkley McLovin' if that were an issue. Having your best friend on the team is a distraction if the guy is furious because he never plays. So either Conley can go or he can't. If the Blazers pull the trigger on this trade you have to assume they think he's a player. This is doubly so because they'd be taking a serious step backwards in experience. Outlaw and Rodriguez aren't exactly reliable, proven commodities but Portland has invested 5+ years in Travis and 2+ years in Sergio and both are beginning to come into their own (whatever that may entail). You start over again with Conley. This does not erase Portland's experience gap at all. Conley's not going to start right away and he's not going to lead this team anywhere it's not already going this year. You're getting a backup point guard immediately and that's it. You better believe he'll grow into more than that or this deal is shaky.
You shouldn't sleep on Hakim Warrick entirely. He's a good player with a variety of offensive moves, many down low. He can fill minutes and rebound a little. But here's another issue with this trade. The Grizzlies have tried to make Warrick swing a little but basically he's a power forward. Channing Frye is a power forward. Lamarcus Aldridge is a power forward. They're both still here. You may have unclogged your logjam at small foward somewhat but you've created another one.
This trade puts the Blazers in a slightly worse position salary-wise. The salaries match up, of course, but Warrick, like Frye and Ike Diogu, is in a possible restricted free agency summer. That means he's a threat to hog cap-space unless you're prepared to release him. Unless you're talking about getting final-pieces-type talent the Blazers will probably want to keep space free or free up more through trade, not lose it. Neither Warrick nor Conley seems like final-piece-type talent at this point.
I'm surprised Javaris Crittenton hasn't been able to assert himself more than he has. I wouldn't mind him being a Blazer for a while, though it's also possible he'd just be cut, as Portland roster is full and the trade is a 2-for-3 deal.
The sum total: Conley is a potentially explosive point guard who is a ways from being explosive yet and isn't playing appreciably better than Sergio Rodriguez, let alone Steve Blake. Warrick is a nice enough player at a position where we already have one really good player and another nice enough player. We trade farther-along potential for less-far-along potential. We don't get a veteran to lead us or provide perspective that we don't yet have...in fact technically speaking we go backwards in experience. We don't get a starter at small forward or point guard in the short term. We don't consolidate or clear positional logjams. We complicate the cap situation slightly. On the face of it this deal answers none of the issues the Blazers would presumably be looking to address in a trade.
Conclusion: The talent we get back must be seen as special enough to overcome these factors. That's the only way this deal gets done. If it does go down then somebody in the Blazer front office thinks very highly of one or more of these players.