The trade completed just before the 1 p.m. MST deadline Thursday should open up some room in a position where the Jazz are well-stocked and reduce the club's luxury tax burden. But it is costing the Jazz's first-round pick in the 2006 draft who has started every game this season and averaged 9.5 points.
"We felt like we gain an asset for drafts coming up," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Thursday. "We felt like we had a lot of players that were similar."
The Jazz can fill the gap with C.J. Miles, Kyle Korver and rookie Wes Matthews, who has been the surprise of the team since making the squad as an undrafted free agent in training camp.
Brewer is making $2.7 million this season and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
O'Connor said the trade won't put the Jazz under the luxury tax penalty, but it does get them closer and gives them some stock in future drafts, possibly as early as next year.
"If we didn't get an asset back we wouldn't have made the deal," he said.
Brewer started all 53 games this season and 80 of 81 last year. He has been starting since his second season in the league and averaged 10.5 points in 266 games for the Jazz.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said Brewer is a winning NBA player.
"Ronnie is an intelligent, versatile player who is an excellent ballhandler and defender," he said.
Brewer's agent, Henry Thomas, said there had been talk about a deal with the Grizzlies for more than a month, but it had died down until the last-minute trade Thursday.
"It was a little bit of a surprise," Thomas said. "I think it's a little too fresh for him to really have a good handle on his feelings right now."
The deal Thursday was minor compared to what the Jazz had been widely expected to do since last summer. Utah is hanging on to two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 19 points and almost 11 boards per game, and seeing how far this team can go in the playoffs.
Utah has won 11 of 12 and surged to third place in the Western Conference standings.