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Deal of the Day: Big Grizzly Center Mauls His Way to DC

Valanciunas for Bryant at the Heart of the Deal

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Deal of the Day, Salary cap rules may be bent but hopefully not broken. (We already broke some.) Just 41 days till the draft.

Today’s Deal: Acquiring a Jonas, Brother

This challenge came from an anonymous writer. GAH! The quest: acquire Jonas Valancius without using this year’s first or second round picks, or Rui Hachimura, or Isaac Bonga, or Ish Smith.

I had to check my notes to see what was left.

Here’s the deal: The Memphis Grizzlies trade center Jonas Valanciunas to the Washington Wizards for center Thomas Bryant, guard Jerome Robinson and a future second round pick.

Why the Grizzlies do the deal?

The Grizzlies accomplish a few things with this deal. First, they reduce spending by $3 million this season and save $5.4 million in 2021-22. In a market like Memphis, in an economy likes ours, every bit counts.

They get younger too, while dramatically improving the three point shooting from the center spot. Jaren Jackson Jr. played center in a lot of their lineups last year so it makes sense that they don’t want to keep paying $14 million for Valanciunas.

Now they can play Ja Morant with Jackson and Bryant or stagger them to always have an outside threat on the floor with the explosive young guard. Gorgui Dieng can back up either spot defensively and the Grizz have solid talent at other forward spots they can mix in.

In Robinson they accept the salary to make the deal work. They get a former lottery pick who showed a bubble bounce but may end up stuck behind Grayson Allen, John Konchar (RFA) or nearly anyone else the Grizzlies might have on the roster. In that case Robinson could become a buyout candidate or get moved again but there’s enough to work with to give him some run first.

Comparing Bryant and Valanciunas

Why the Wizards do the deal

Rebounding and interior defense. No one is going to get on ESPN singing the virtues of Valanciunas’ defense but it is better than Bryant’s. Valanciunas can hold his ground inside in ways Bryant just can’t with his footwork and narrow base.

Valanciunas is a more proficient rebounder too. Check out the comparison above. With this trade, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard adds beefy Lithuanian Lightning to complement the Latvian Laser. If there’s one thing I learned from a summer studying in Prague many (many) years ago, it’s that nothing brings out competitiveness in a Lithuanian quite like a Latvian and vice versa.

By the way, there were a lot more lessons learned that summer. Don’t smoke a Cuban cigar with only some cola in your stomach. Don’t let a Romanian have too much Czech wine with his uncle’s ţuică that he smuggled into dinner. And when a lovely Slovene asks you to slow dance to Leonard Cohen, you say yes! [End flashback]

Where were we?

Roster with #9, #37, MLE and BAE still to use:

John Wall - Smith

Bradley Beal - Troy Brown Jr. - Garrison Mathews (RFA)

Valanciunas - ________ - Moritiz Wagner - AnzejisPasecniks (camp guarantee)

Hachimura - Davis Bertans (UFA)

Bonga - __________ - Admiral Schofield

Ultimately I think Memphis would want a pick too so I included a future second.

Trade Resources


ESPN Trade Machine


Want to request a trade target or send a challenge? Email me at and include your Bullets Forever screen name.