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Grizzlies trade Cunningham to Wolves for Ellington

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

A small trade was formally executed on Tuesday as the Memphis Grizzlies sent forward Dante Cunningham to the Minnesota Timberwolves for reserve shooting guard Wayne Ellington, according to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal and confirmed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The trade sends a pivotal forward for Memphis' playoff run to the Wolves, who have stockpiled combo forwards since missing out on Nicolas Batum when the Blazers matched their max offer for the French swing man. Cunningham played a pivotal role for Memphis when Darrell Arthur went down with injury. With Arthur returning to the team and expected to be ready for training camp, and the team having elected to re-sign Marreese Speights, there wasn't enough room for all those forwards on Memphis.

What Memphis needs is a shooter to space the floor at the 2, but Ellington only shot 32 percent from three last year. He's never really established himself in a rotation in three years under two coaches. With Mike Conley, Tony Wroten, Jerryd Bayless, and Summer League standout Josh Selby on the roster, it's hard to see where Ellington is going to find minutes, but after years of being desperately short in their backcourt rotation, the Grizzlies seem to have found their depth, even if it means the loss of O.J. Mayo.

Cunningham will have a similar difficulty in Minnesota, who are reportedly pursuing Andrei Kirilenko after trading Wesley Johnson and acquiring Chase Budinger. The Wolves are looking at a number of options, and Cunningham gives them athleticism and size at the combo-forward spot. Minnesota gets the better player, but neither team may have made a big impact with the trade. Cunningham did show that he was a capble and willing defender last season, however, and that may spark something with coach Rick Adelman.

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