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Game #53: Wolves at Grizzlies Preview

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The Wolves and Grizzlies square off in their final game before the NBA Trade Deadline.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves (25-27) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (21-33)

7:00pm CDT, FedExForum in Memphis, TN

Fox Sports North Plus

The Wolves and Grizzlies are back in action tonight, less than a week after Karl-Anthony Towns added this fantastic game-winner to his already extensive NBA resume:

While both team’s are having underwhelming seasons (currently the Wolves and Grizzlies sit 11th and 14th in the Western Conference, respectively), tonight’s game could have great significance for both franchises.

For Memphis, this is their final home game before Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. Could this be the last time guys like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley don a Grizzlies uniform? While the earlier departures of both Tony Allen and Zach Randolph signified the official end of “Grit and Grind,” it’s Gasol and Conley who have been the cornerstones of the Memphis franchise over the last decade. With the Grizzlies eight games back of the 8-seed, tonight’s contest may be more about celebrating the past, rather than examining the future.

And then there’s our own hometown team - the Minnesota Timberwolves. While Glen Taylor (and to a lesser extent Scott Layden) don’t have to worry about potentially trading a face of the franchise, countless questions still remain for them as well when it comes to Thursday’s deadline. Armed with a slough of expiring contracts (Jerryd Bayless, Anthony Tolliver, Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson), no team (in my opinion) is better positioned to have a massive yard sale in the next 48 hours than Minnesota.

While certain players may be too valuable to deal because of their presence/influence in the locker room (i.e. Gibson), it would be downright criminal if the Wolves didn’t at least get one 2nd round pick for another one of their expiring deals, primarily because none of them seem destined to re-sign with Minnesota this summer. Players like Bayless, Deng, Tolliver, and Rose could all help playoff contenders down the stretch, and considering the Wolves depth, Minnesota would still be able to field a competitive team even if they moved one or two pieces (all while adding assets, which is critical for the long-term health of the franchise).

A team with it’s cornerstone already in place (Towns) and a handful of expiring contracts is every GM’s wet dream, so failing to do anything before 3:00pm EST on Thursday would be an extremely disappointing result from the Wolves front office.

Projected Starting Lineups

Wolves:

PG: Jerryd Bayless
SG: Josh Okogie
SF: Andrew Wiggins
PF: Taj Gibson
C: Karl-Anthony Towns

Grizzlies:

PG: Mike Conley
SG: Justin Holiday
SF: Bruno Caboclo
PF: Jaren Jackson, Jr.
C: Marc Gasol

Injury Report

For the Wolves, Jeff Teague (foot) is DOUBTFUL, while Derrick Rose (ankle), Tyus Jones (ankle), and Robert Covington (knee) are OUT. As for the hometown Grizzlies, Garrett Temple (shoulder) is DOUBTFUL, while Dillon Brooks (toe), Kyle Anderson (shoulder), Omri Casspi (knee) and Chandler Parsons (felony bank robbery) are all OUT.

As always, we’ll have you covered for tonight’s game right here at Canis Hoopus, as will our friends over at Grizzly Bear Blues.

UPDATE:
Well, maybe Marc Gasol WON’T be starting tonight:

Obviously nothing official has happened, but now it will be fascinating to see if Gasol dresses tonight against the Wolves. Either way, the NBA continues to be bleeping awesome.