ESPN is reporting on this fine morning that the Grizzlies have renounced their rights to Hakim Warrick. Warrick was a restricted free agent, and had a qualifying offer for $3 million. That means that had no other team offered contract a with a greater value, the Grizzlies would have automatically retained him at that cost for one year. This development comes as a relatively large surprise, Warrick has been called a member of the "young core" by management in the past and is a growing talent. $3 million for one season would have been a very reasonable price for a 6th man, but with Randolph, Arthur, and possibly Gasol and Carroll the minutes are probably not available. First reactions over the jump:
First, when you're as bad as the Grizzlies you need to be protecting assets. Warrick is an asset, and one that could be retained for a relatively low price of $3 million. Not a bad deal for his level of contribution. On a better team Warrick probably isn't good enough to be a sixth man, but he is good enough to be a heavy rotation player, and has significant "upside" left. He's not that young anymore, but still is growing in skill and could eventually become a very big and bouncy small forward. The talent is real and is valuable. And as his defense matures he has the ability to guard jumpshooting bigs, which is a quality of very few players on the market. I'm almost certain that if Memphis would have released him earlier Cleveland or Boston would have looked into his services just because he could defend Rashard effectively.
On top of that Warrick provides some non-basketball value. Though frustrating at times, he is very fun to watch. The dude dunks like crazy. Him and Rudy are quite the one-two punch in that category. Also I've never heard a bad thing about Hakim in the clubhouse. His rapport with the other young guys seems excellent, especially Rudy. He even seems reasonably coachable. Sometimes when players don't develop as skills to match their athleticism we assume that it's because their lazy or uncoachable, which is often not the case and wasn't ever the case for Hakim. He's put in lots of work to develop some very flashy moves on the offensive end.
The media is claiming this is a harbringer to an Iverson signing, because it frees us from $6 million of cap room to $9 million. I don't believe that one bit. If we signed Iverson it would get done for $5 million, we don't need the extra space. But I do believe it could be creating enough space for another player with David Lee as the only real target. The Grizzlies were in talks with Lee prior to trading for Randolph, and Lee is frustrated with New York's unwillingness to give him any money. At the same time, however, we let Warrick go because there isn't space in the frontcourt, so Lee doesn't make much sense unless the Grizzlies were going to get rid of Gasol. Lee would be an upgrade, but not an $8 million dollar upgrade.
Ramon Sessions could be a possible target as well, but under the Arenas rules can't be paid over the MLE anyhow. No need to free up any more cap space for his services. At this point if the Grizzlies add a guard I anticipate it will be a "full-size" shooting guard to replace Mayo so he can get more time at the point. There are no shooting guards worth even the full MLE, much less $9 million, left in free agency though, so this doesn't seem to be happening. A trade could be possible, but is probably unlikely, especially since Mayo is at least a year from having starter quality point guard skills.
In short, this looks like it wasn't really to open cap space, but to cut costs, which is never an encouraging sign. I'll be sad to see Hak go. A change of scenery might be best for the guy anyhow. Everyone should wish him well.