NBA trade rumors: Blazers can seize rare opportunity, gamble on ideal Grizzlies wing

It's not often young, talented, high-upside players are available on the cheap.
Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies
Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Portland Trail Blazers are far more likely to be sellers than buyers at the 2024 NBA trade deadline. Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III, Matisse Thybulle and Jerami Grant are all candidates to be dealt if general manager Joe Cronin decides to do anything (which seems unlikely at this point).

But what if Cronin decides to zig instead of zag?

There's at least one young Memphis Grizzlies wing who reportedly has no future with the organization, which presents a unique opportunity for Portland: Instead of trading away players for future assets, the Blazers could trade minimal future assets to bring a player in.

And what makes an already unique opportunity even rarer is that said player is a former top-10 pick who's only 22 years old, is still on a rookie contract and could give Portland a potential core piece at a position Cronin has yet to fill.

Trail Blazers should trade for Memphis Grizzlies wing Ziaire Williams

Memphis is approaching the trade deadline of a lost season, which means the Grizzlies could be looking to clear the deck and reload for next year. The team already sent center Steven Adams to the Houston Rockets to clear cap space for next season and, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, other NBA executives are wondering if more moves are coming.

Scotto mentions forward Xavier Tillman as the main name to watch, but he adds that teams are curious to see if forward Ziaire Williams and guard Jake LaRavia could also be had.

If Williams is available, Cronin should pounce.

The 6-foot-9 Williams was a highly-touted recruit who had one underwhelming season at Stanford before entering the 2021 draft. Still, the potential of a long, smooth 19-year-old with the upside of a go-to scorer enticed the Grizzlies enough to make him the No. 10 overall pick.

Through his first two-plus NBA seasons, the former Sierra Canyon star hasn't approached that high ceiling, but there's a case to be made it's more because of a lack of opportunity than a lack of skill.

Williams played in 62 games his rookie season and averaged 8.1 points in 21.7 minutes for a team that finished with the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. He only shot 31.4 percent from three, but he hit 45 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

He fell down the Grizzlies' pecking order last season - again on a team that finished second in the West - behind players like Tillman and Brandon Clarke. With Memphis out of contention this year, Williams has gotten himself back in the rotation, playing 18.8 minutes per game.

Despite being inefficient and averaging only 7.7 points, there are signs that point to growth in the 22-year-old's game. He's getting to the line more often and is shooting 83.1 percent from the stripe. He's averaging career highs in rebounds (3.4) and assists (1.5). Not eye-popping numbers, but still growth from a player who was exceedingly raw coming into the league.

Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons have the Blazers set in the backcourt as Portland begins its rebuild, but the franchise doesn't have any high-upside prospects on the wing. Williams would be an ideal fit.

At the very least, he's a young, inexpensive lottery ticket who will get more opportunity to develop with the Blazers than he has with the Grizzlies.


Players with Williams' upside at his young age don't come available very often in the NBA, especially at a cheap price. These are the kinds of gambles Cronin should be taking at this point in Portland's rebuild.