After finishing a season where the Grizzlies shot just 34.4% from three-point range (24th) and 44.4% overall (21st), there is definitely room for improvement in the shooting department. This isn't news. The Grizzlies have needed a sharp shooter for years, but the time has come for the Grizzlies to address the issue. There are several players that are set to hit the free agent market that would be excellent fits and should be affordable options for the Grizzlies.
Now, I know what you're all thinking after all the buzz on twitter and other social media platforms the last couple days. What about Monta Ellis!? Nope, you absolutely will not be hearing anything about Mr. Ellis in this piece after this paragraph. I don't think he is a great fit for the Grizzlies nor do I expect in my wildest dreams for him to take a pay cut from $11 mil/yr to $5 mil/yr to join the team. Call me a grouch, stupid, what have you. I just don't see a future for Monta in a Grizzlies uniform. That's all I'll say about him.
Now that we have addressed the elephant in the room, let's get down to business. The Grizzlies are already over the salary cap, so they *literally* have no extra cash laying around to spend in free agency. They do, however, have their mid-level exception left to offer for this year, which allows them to offer a player $5 mil/yr for four years. Without further ado, let's take a look at who the Grizzlies could reasonably go after that also seems like a strong fit to fill the team's biggest needs, most explicitly shooting.
J.J. Redick, 28 Years Old, 6'4", 190 lbs., Shooting Guard / Previous Salary: $6,190,000
|2012 - J.J. Redick||78||30.5||4.9||11.3||43.4||2.1||5.8||36.6||2.2||2.4||90.0||0.2||2.0||2.2||3.8||1.8||0.5||0.1||1.5||14.1|
Redick's stats speak for themselves. A shooting guard that shot 42.9% from the field and 39.0% from three-point range for his career is exactly what the Grizzlies need. I thought the Grizzlies should have made a play for him at the trade deadline, but since that didn't happen the next best thing would be to add him in free agency. The impressive thing about Redick is that when he first entered the league, he was seen as a bit of a one-trick pony by many. He has developed his game since his early years, and now he can score from a myriad of places on the floor and in a variety of ways. Also, despite what his atrocious 106.4 defensive rating would suggest, he can also play decent defense.
Back to Redick scoring in a variety of ways though. First, Redick has always been great at running his defender ragged off of screens to create open threes for himself even going back to his Duke days. This and the fact that he buries more of his open looks than just about anybody in the NBA has given him staying power in the league. You can't be an elite shooter in the NBA without first knowing how to get open. Redick is a high iq player that has it down to a science. Watch Redick craftily lose his defender time and again by running off screens in the clip below.
Another area in which Redick succeeds is scoring in transition. He was 12/29 from beyond the arc this season in transition. The Grizzlies excelled in transition this season (ranked 8th) despite being a predominantly slow team that doesn't like to run up and down the court. However, adding another wrinkle to the transition game couldn't hurt. Redick understands how to fill his lane in transition and is great in the trailer role. Watch him gauge what his teammates are doing in transition first before inherently determining that he needs to be the trailer on the play. Redick gets a wide-open three on the play all because he was smart enough to fill the right lane. This is just one of the many things he could bring to the Grizzlies on a nightly basis.
The biggest question about Redick is his price tag. Will Redick take $5 mil/yr after eating $6.2 million last season? That's the burning question, but it won't hurt that the Grizzlies can sell him on playing for a contender while only taking a slight pay cut, at least in NBA terms. Oh, and Redick is also from Cookeville, Tennessee. Maybe he has a soft spot in his heart for the state. It's time to come home J.J.
Kyle Korver, 32 Years Old, 6'7", 210 lbs., Small Forward / Previous Salary: $5,000,000
|2012 - Kyle Korver||74||30.5||3.7||8.1||46.1||2.6||5.6||45.7||0.9||1.1||85.9||0.3||3.6||4.0||2.0||0.9||0.9||0.5||2.3||10.9|
Korver brings much the same thing that Redick does: shooting. However, Korver is as lethal as they come from deep. The man hit 45.7% of his shots from beyond the arc this season. Out of all players in the league that shot at least 50 threes, only Jose Calderon hit a higher percentage than Korver. Add in the fact that Korver took over 100 more threes than Calderon and that his percentage was less than half a percentage point lower than Calderon's, and that makes Korver the best three-point shooter in the league. Korver can hurt a defense in numerous ways, much like Redick. He can score from handoffs, off screens, in transition, etc.
The most notable difference between what he would bring to the Grizzlies and what Redick would bring is Korver's ability to be lethal in spot-up situations. Korver shot 48.1% from deep in spot up situations this season whereas Redick shot 39.4% in those situations, which is still great. This would help fill one of the Grizzlies biggest needs on offense: spacing. Having a shooter that hits nearly 50% of his spot up threes stand in the corner will help. One problem the Grizzlies ran into in the playoffs was teams doubling down on two of the Grizzlies best scorers, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, because they didn't have to fear them kicking the ball out to a lethal three-point shooter. With Korver on the roster, the days where teams could deploy that strategy would be over. Also, for a decent offensive rebounding team such as the Grizzlies, Korver would be an excellent option to tip the ball out to, which is exactly what the Hawks did on multiple occasions. Check it out below.
Again, the same problem might arise with Korver as with Redick. His price tag might be out of the Grizzlies range. Also, he seems happy in Atlanta, but I wouldn't discount the Grizzlies chances. But, then again, he made $5,000,000 last season, which happens to be exactly what the Grizzlies could offer him.
Marco Belinelli, 27 Years Old, 6'5", 192 lbs., Shooting Guard / Previous Salary: $1,957,000
|2012 - Marco Belinelli||73||25.8||3.3||8.4||39.5||1.1||3.0||35.7||1.9||2.3||83.9||0.2||1.7||1.9||2.0||1.1||0.6||0.1||1.9||9.6|
The Italian would be another guy that could fill the Grizzlies three-point shooting void. Belinelli is not as good a shooter as Redick or Korver, but he will also come cheaper. Belinelli tries hard every night, but he doesn't necessarily fit the bill for the Grizzlies defensively. He's always been sub-par. However, that's not what he is on this list for. Belinelli is a 38.7% three-point shooter for his career. Consider Belinelli as a sort-of replacement for Jerryd Bayless. Bayless is going to cost more than Belinelli even though Belinelli brings the same thing to the floor as Bayless but a little better. Belinelli hits spot-up threes at a 41.4% clip, which is better than Bayless.
Another thing he does much better than Bayless is score as the pick-and-roll ball handler. While Belinelli isn't a great ball handler, he averaged a little over one turnover per game, he is a good enough to execute a decent pick-and-roll play. He went 12/34 from deep while serving as the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. That's pretty good for someone that would be a backup guard for the Grizzlies, and it would add another wrinkle the Grizzlies have not had before. Oh, and Belinelli turned the ball over on three percent less of his possessions than Bayless. Check out Belinelli execute the pick-and-roll to perfection in the clip below.
The biggest obstacle to overcome with Belinelli will likely be luring him away from Chicago, where he seems content to stay. Maybe the Grizzlies could talk him into believing he will get less playing time in the Windy City with Derrick Rose coming back. They might be right. It might be time for a change of scenery for the Italian.
Dorell Wright, 27 Years Old, 6'7", 200 lbs., Shooting Guard/Small Forward / Previous Salary: $6,159,000
|2012 - Dorell Wright||79||22.6||3.0||7.6||39.6||1.7||4.6||37.4||1.5||1.8||85.1||0.5||3.3||3.8||1.9||0.8||0.8||0.4||1.2||9.2|
While I don't believe the Small Forward to carry the Grizzlies forward in the post-Rudy Gay years is in this year's free agency market, Dorell Wright would certainly make up for some of Gay's much-disputed offensive production that the Grizzlies lost in that trade. As with many free agents in this class that are worth the Grizzlies time, money is an issue. Wright would have to be willing to make a little less to play for a contender, which is a sacrifice I believe he might be willing to make after swimming in futility the last half-decade of his career.
As for what Wright adds, it's scoring and defense. Wright fits with the Grizzlies defensive scheme of playing tough defense, and he should be able to transition into the Grizzlies defense with ease. Wright did not have a great defensive rating this year, but then again he didn't play on a good defensive team, which hurt his numbers. Wright can guard multiple positions, which automatically increases his value. His length also allows him to disrupt passing lanes. Check out Wright using those long arms to get his team a steal in the clip below.
On the offensive end, Wright excels at cutting to the basket at the right moment (15/24 when cutting), scoring at a clip after pulling down an offensive rebound (11/20 after an offensive board), and transition offense (53/107, or 49.5%). His cutting ability might be better than Tony Allen's, which is the only remarkable offensive skill Allen possesses. Wright knows that distinct moment to cut to the basket to create a scoring chance for his team. It is something that is extremely valuable because instincts can't be coached. Wright is definitely worth the Grizzlies bringing in for a workout.
Matt Barnes, 33 Years Old, 6'7", 235 lbs., Small Forward / Previous Salary: $854,389
|2012 - Matt Barnes||80||25.7||3.9||8.4||46.2||1.4||4.1||34.2||1.1||1.5||74.4||1.4||3.2||4.6||1.5||1.1||1.0||0.8||2.9||10.3|
In what universe does Matt Barnes not belong on the Memphis Grizzlies? Barnes, whether you agree or not, exemplifies everything that Memphis is about. Barnes is a tough, grind-it-out style of defender that never backs down from a challenge. He is excellent at defending pick-and-roll ball handlers in particular. He is also a scrappy offensive player that fights for loose balls and for every shot he takes. Barnes can be an asset on offense as well when used correctly. While known more for his defense, Barnes is an excellent post-up player for his position, scoring on 45.9% of his attempts in the post this season. Barnes isn't the sexy sharp shooter that the Grizzlies are looking for, but he still made 33.7% of his threes this season, so he does have some shooting ability.
Due to his age, it might be feasible to sign Barnes to a veteran minimum deal and save the Grizzlies a lot of money while adding significant value. Even though he will likely come on the cheap, all the players listed above should be far greater priorities for the Grizzlies than Barnes. With where he is at in his career combined with what the Grizzlies are looking for, it's not a perfect fit. Now, if Barnes was only 26 years old, I might have said he was the small forward of the future for the Grizzlies. Even though Barnes is not the best fit, the Griz could certainly do worse.
Jarrett Jack, 29 Years Old, 6'3", 202 lbs., Point Guard / Previous Salary: $5,400,000
|2012 - Jarrett Jack||79||29.7||4.9||10.8||45.2||1.0||2.6||40.4||2.1||2.5||84.3||0.3||2.8||3.1||5.6||2.0||0.8||0.1||1.7||12.9|
Jack is the most unrealistic free agent on this list both financially and for the Grizzlies. Given Jack's stellar year as the Warriors backup point guard, he is due for much more than the $5 mil/yr that the Griz can offer him. However, the same can be said for him that has been said for all the other players on the list. If he is willing to take a pay cut to play on a contender, the Grizzlies could make room. Another thing against the Grizzlies is the Golden State Warriors, Jack's current team, look ready to explode onto the scene at the top of the Western Conference. It seems logical that Jack would want to resign with the W's to remain a part of that.
The reason Jack is on the list is because he fills two of the Grizzlies biggest needs. He can shoot and he is a heck of a backup point guard. He was excellent all year at utilizing the pick-and-roll to orchestrate the Warriors offense, and he scored on 45.3% of the shots he took as the pick-and-roll ball handler. Griz fans cringe when they hear the word isolation after Gay's reign with the team, but Jack really is a good iso player. He scored on 41.7% of his isolation chances. Jack has always been good at making something out of absolutely nothing with the ball in his hands which is tough to put a price on.
Someone with as multifaceted a game as Jack should not be overlooked by the Grizzlies just because his price tag seems high. He is at least worth reaching out to.
Honorable Mention Free Agents
All videos and stats courtesy of mysynergysports
All contract information courtesy of shamsports