NBA Free Agency: Memphis Grizzlies Preview
What Happened Last Season:
The Grizzlies are a perennially off-the-radar franchise, and 2016/17 was symptomatic of that. They scraped into the playoffs, but lost in the first round yet again. They have two great cornerstone players in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, who had career years and seem to finally be getting the kudos they sorely deserve. They have a quality coach in David Fizdale who slotted in perfectly in his first year. He took the team to an above average 43-39 in the regular season and were even savvy enough to steal a few games from Pop and the Spurs in the playoffs (TAKE THAT FOR DATA! Sorry, had to get that in somehow). They got quality production from their vets. Zach Randolph was a 6th Man of the Year contender and Vinsanity was back in full force. Free agent JaMychal Green established himself as a quality stretch four hitting over 38% from 3 in the regular season and improving that to just under 44% in the playoffs. As for the negatives, his name is Chandler Parsons. He played only 34 games and averaged a highly disappointing 6.2 points per game on under 34% shooting. For a player on over $20 million a year for the next three years you’d want them to average over 10 freaking points!
It was another Grit-N-Grind season for the Grizzlies, and it seems like next season will likely be more of the same.
Upcoming Free Agents:
Unrestricted: Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, Wayne Selden
Restricted: JaMychal Green
Potential Cap Space: $5,098,219
Value contracts, shooting and signing JaMychal Green; those should be the priorities of the Grizzlies’ front office.
Green is a restricted free agent so whatever he commands on the open market Memphis has the right to match that. He’s likely to command somewhere around the $12-15 million range. Unless it’s anything above that they should certainly match and retain his services. In terms of the veterans (Randolph, Allen and Carter) they all have garnered some interest from opposing teams around the association. They certainly shouldn’t look at breaking the bank for Allen and Randolph whose careers are on the downward trajectory considering their age (despite their relative production over the season). They’re somewhat hamstrung by what teams do around them but one thing the team sorely needs is someone who can create and shoot outside of Conley (they rank 29th in the league for points scored). The Grizzlies GM has been noncommittal around the future of Green, Randolph, Allen and Carter and with the team lacking cap space his indecisiveness makes sense.
McLemore is a player full of untapped potential. Players with potential generally don’t thrive with the Sacramento Kings although a change of team could certainly benefit his game. The Grizzlies are in the need of a shooter with youth (he’s 24 years of age) and while his career averages (9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists) aren’t anything to rave home about with more opportunity and a skilful coach like Fizdale there’s no reason why McLemore couldn’t flourish. (Signed with Memphis.)
Memphis lack depth at the guard/wing position, C.J. Miles is a guard/wing that would help fill that void. Miles turned 30 earlier in the year and was a valuable piece for the Pacers throughout the year especially with his 3-point shooting (41.3%). He’s also a versatile enough defender that he can guard numerous positions. With Reddick now off the market, the Pacers guard/wing is in a great position to garner some great contract offers. He’d fit nicely into Dave Fizdale’s style of play too, though it all depends on whether the front office can shuffle some things around and fit him under their cap.
Evans is a poor mans version of C.J. Miles. His offensive talent is certainly there but his efficiency and defense are subpar to say the least. The Grizzlies lack players on the bench who can create off the dribble, so Evans would certainly provide that. His defensive flaws may not stand out as much in a quality system like the one in Memphis. The front office certainly need to make a move soon because the market is getting thinner and thinner by the day.