Trade deadline season is approaching, and everyone wants to know how their teams can improve. For the Memphis Grizzlies, a lot has changed since the beginning of the season.
When the Grizzlies were 9-10, it seemed a move for a star to pair with point guard Ja Morant was the best option. Since then, the Grizzlies have played like one of the best teams in the NBA, entering Wednesday night's game against San Antonio at 32-17 and in third place in the Western Conference.
The drastic change has eased the thirst for a star player. Memphis is not only winning, but it is doing so without the preferred starting lineup. Dillon Brooks has been out with a left ankle injury.
However, some fans are still enamored with the idea of a Jaylen Brown or Bradley Beal type acquisition. That would require giving up players the Grizzlies can commit to long term for better value. Brooks, Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke are all on team-friendly deals.
The Grizzlies may not need to go star-hunting just yet. Sometimes the best deals are for players teams can plug in to fix holes. Last season that was P.J. Tucker for the world champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Here are five players the Grizzlies should target at the Feb. 10 trade deadline:
Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers
Robert Covington should be Memphis' top option. Covington makes 1.7 3-pointers per game on 35% shooting. The Grizzlies rank 23rd in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 33.9%. The 6-foot-7 Covington is also averaging more than one steal and one block for the fourth straight season, making him a perfect fit for the Grizzlies' havoc-wreaking defense that paces the league in steals and blocks per game. You can never have enough 3-and-D players. Portland is tumbling in the standings and Covington is in the final year of a four-year, $46.9 million deal.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic
The Grizzlies have gotten contributions from several players, but Clarke and Tyus Jones have been the only consistent bench pieces. Adding a wing scorer to this group who can create his own shot would be an improvement. Terrence Ross has been one of the NBA's best scorers off the bench. The 6-6 Ross has averaged double figures the last four seasons. His 3-point shooting is at a career low 31%, but his ability to create shots and get hot at any moment could give the Grizzlies one of the NBA's best benches. He isn't a free agent until 2023, so the price could be steeper. He has a base salary of $11.5 million next season.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon is the last piece remaining in Houston from the championship contending days. But he has a tricky contract situation. He isn't a free agent until 2024, but the last year of his deal is non-guaranteed. The 6-4 Gordon is owed $19.5 million next season, plus he won't come cheap. Gordon is shooting a blistering 44.5% from three this season. Bane has drawn comparisons to Gordon. If Memphis is willing to cough up a first-round pick and move decent-sized contracts like De'Anthony Melton ($8.8) or Kyle Anderson ($9.9 million), a deal could be done.
Justin Holiday, Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are one of the more intriguing rosters at the trade deadline because of the enticing pieces they have despite their mediocre results. While a player like Caris LeVert is a flashy move, the cost may be too high. Justin Holiday is another 3-and-D player who can help the Grizzlies shooting struggles while adding veteran wing depth. The 6-6 Holiday is averaging 10.9 points and shooting 37.1% on 3-pointers. He's in the second season of a three-year, $18 million deal. The value can't get much better than that.
Robin Lopez, Orlando Magic
On paper, the Grizzlies are the NBA's best rebounding team. Steven Adams is a big reason why as the NBA's top offensive rebounder. However, backup Grizzlies big men aren't as impactful on the glass. Adding a veteran center like Robin Lopez would solidify this strength. This move is about matching and exceeding opponents. The Utah Jazz have seven-footers Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside; the Phoenix Suns have Deandre Ayton and Javale McGee; the Los Angeles Lakers have Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. These are teams the Grizzlies could see in the playoffs. Jaren Jackson Jr. can hold his own at center, but he isn't an elite rebounder yet. Lopez has a 13% offensive rebounding percentage, which would be second on the Grizzlies behind Adams. Lopez is a free agent at the end of the season, and he's playing on a $5 million deal.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Players the Memphis Grizzlies should target at NBA trade deadline