NBA Future Power Rankings: 15. Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Grizzlies: In what may have been the most shocking development of free agency, the Memphis Grizzlies managed to acquire a big time free agent in Chandler Parsons and paid the largest contract in NBA history to re-sign Mike Conley. Memphis has never been considered a big market or desirable destination for free agents (no offense to Memphis), which makes this offseason a great sign for the future of the Grizzlies and other smaller market organizations. The Grizzlies managed to steal swingman Chandler Parsons from the division rival Mavericks with a 4-year $94 Million contract. Parsons is easily the best small forward Memphis has had since trading away Rudy Gay and will provide some much needed playmaking. Parsons can hold his own defensively, function as a secondary playmaker to Conley and Marc Gasol, and shoot from outside. Parsons does bring a lot of risk since he has been dealing with serious knee problems the past couple of seasons, but he is still only 27 and a worthwhile gamble for the Grizzlies. Signing Parsons was also a huge factor in convincing point guard Mike Conley to re-sign with Memphis, although I’m sure the record breaking 5-year $153 million contract didn’t hurt either. Conley has quietly been one of the top point guards in league for a while now. Conley has no true weakness; he is an elite defender, can hit threes, and is a solid playmaker. All of this said, any sane person could tell you that Conley isn’t worthy of the richest contract in league history. However, you can’t blame Conley for signing this contract. With Marc Gasol signed to a long-term contract the Grizzlies are not in a good position to rebuild and had no means of replacing Conley. Memphis had no 1st round picks this season and was unproven in attracting free agents until Parsons signed this offseason. Add in the incredibly weak point guard free agent class and the massive leap in the salary cap, and it was inevitable for Conley to be overpaid by someone. Conley does have a lot of risk on a 5-year deal since he will be 29 at the start of this season and is coming off an Achilles injury. Parsons, Conley, and Gasol form a very intriguing core for Memphis with all three players still in their relative primes. The problem is all three players are returning from very serious injuries suffered last year. Outside of these three Memphis doesn’t have too much going for them. They still have some solid veterans in Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Vince Carter, as well as some interesting young players in Jordan Adams, Deyonta Davis, Wade Baldwin, and JaMychal Green, but I’m not sure this will be enough to challenge the Warriors or Spurs in the west. Adding a shooter in Troy Daniels was a smart move, and the return of Brandan Wright from injury should really help bolster the bench. The Grizzlies better hope their current roster is good enough to compete with the top teams in the league considering they owe the Nuggets a top-5 protected 2017 1st round pick and the Celtics a top-8 protected 2019 1st round pick. I like the team Memphis has built, but it is really hard to imagine this core leading the Grizzlies to the finals.