On July 13, 2012, the Memphis Grizzlies signed guard Jerryd Bayless to a multi-year contract. At the time of the signing, Bayless was a rapidly-improving young player who had just come off his best season in the NBA with Toronto. The Grizzlies signed Bayless with hopes of addressing the team's horrendous three-point shooting and a lack of backup point guards behind the franchise guy, Mike Conley.
When Bayless first stepped onto the court as a guy in blue, there were no lofty expectations hanging over his head. He wasn't signed to be a game-changer; rather, he was signed to fill holes that needed filled. For the most part, he did that and more, as he was granted a stronger role and opportunity in a Memphis offense that sought to push offense to outside shooting:
When Rudy Gay was traded (it's amazing how much Rudy Gay is mentioned in our Grizz grades articles) and new faces stepped into town, Bayless was given more minutes. In response, he upped his level of play and became a point-scoring monster, logging 15 of 33 games with over 10 points and 6 of 33 games with over 15 points.
For the most part, Bayless continued the same level of production into the playoffs, averaging 9.3 points and 2.1 assists on 21.3 minutes - but his shooting drastically dropped from .419 to .358.
Unfortunately, Bayless' time in Memphis will most likely be remembered with the shove he received from Lionel Hollins in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The details are still uncertain, but a heated conversation between Bayless and Hollins concluded with Hollins going ultra-thug and showing Bayless politely to his seat.
NBA media got hold of the whole ordeal and made a fuss about it. Maybe rightfully so, but postgame reports revealed Bayless and Hollins kissed and made up.
"It was in the heat of the moment," Bayless said. "We've moved on."
From this point forward, there's no telling where a guy like Bayless could end up. The Grizzlies handled him well, but as ownership is pushing the salary cap, Bayless will be financially encouraged to opt out of his $3.1 million player option for 2013-14 and test the open market. A guy like him could land a two or three-year deal and do the same stuff he did for us: fill holes.
General Grizznosity: C
Clutch Performance: B-