A necessary step in any trade discussion between the two teams is finding a third team. The Grizzlies have a core group of players they’re unlikely to move in a deal for a center, and then have a large step down to the rest of their rostered players. They will likely need to involve draft capital to balance out a deal.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, are ready to win now. They could take back draft capital for Allen, but that would require finding another deal down the line to use those assets, in the meantime continuing to play without either Allen or the ultimate addition those assets would bring in. It’s much more likely that the Cavaliers force the Grizzlies to find that third team before a deal.
A logical third party is Brooklyn, as the Nets are not tanking but do recognize they are not competing for a championship right now. They are also stocked with two-way wings that could fit into lineups between the Cavs’ star-studded backcourt and Mobley in the middle. Let’s see what such a trade could look like:
The Grizzlies turn two of their first-round picks into a starting center who has proven he can be the backbone of an elite defense. Allen also would free Jaren Jackson Jr. to continue defending at the 4, where his help defense is better deployed and where he can be protected from foul trouble. They move on from a recent first-round pick in Ziaire Williams and use Steven Adams’ deal as matching salary.
For Brooklyn, this is about acquiring assets. They get two first-round picks to help them go big-star hunting or to rebuild their depth with young players, depending on their vision of the next few years. Williams becomes a reasonable young flier, and Adams and Rubio’s salaries are the cost of doing business, while also representing low-percentage gambles at having good veteran trade assets a year from now.
What about Cleveland? Would this deal make sense for them?