When the final buzzer sounded on the Grizzlies season, and a lovable group of misfits slowly walked back to the locker room, Grizzlies fans far and wide looked towards free agency and said, "If we can just get a shooter..." Since the "Grit'n'Grind" era first started, The Grizzlies have been near the bottom of the league in outside shooting, and seemingly at the end of every year, we find ourselves sitting in the same situation, looking at the box score from the last game we got to play and saying "If we can just get a shooter..."
The loss to San Antonio stung, but it can largely be contributed to the fact that, other than Quincy Pondexter in the last two games, we didn't even have a threat of outside shooting, much less someone actually knocking them down. You can win in the NBA with the ground and pound style of play the Grizzlies have grown accustomed to, but you cannot do it without legitimate, above average shooting from beyond the arc. At the moment, it certainly looks as if the Grizzlies have failed to do anything about that.
At the beginning of the free agency period, our own Matt Hrdlicka wrote a piece outlining ten potential free agent targets for the Grizzlies comprised of nine legitimate shooters and NBA players and Roger Mason Jr. To date, eight of those players have already signed with new teams, two being playoff and division rivals. One is still available, and has gotten very little attention thus far in free agency until reports broke today he will probably re-up with San Antonio, and the other is still Roger Mason Jr.
At the moment, most Grizzlies fans find themselves wanting to go right up to the front office and say, "You tossers! You had one job to do!" in their best Basher Tarr voice, and the widespread belief is that the Grizzlies have struck out in free agency. The only problem with that is, in order to strike out, you generally have to swing, or at least step into the box. For the most part, The Grizzlies haven't been linked to anyone. The best rumor we had to go off of was that we low balled the "best shooter in Europe" and cost one ruggedly handsome site contributor the chance to constantly use his italian accent and say "thatsa spicy meatball!" throughout the season. There is still plenty of time before the season begins, and there are still a few attractive options out there. However, time is running out, and with a good deal of people already headed for greener pastures, it makes sense for Memphis to establish what move most makes sense for this team and pull the trigger, before they find themselves sitting alone with Sheila Sauvageau.
So what do the Grizzlies do? Do they offer a one year deal to someone like Gary Neal or Nick Young in hopes that these part time lovers might work hard to cash in big next offseason? Do they steal someone else's lady by trading for a guy like Jimmer Fredette or Ersan Ilyasova? Is it possible they stand pat and just continue to dance with the girl that got them this far? Or do they throw caution completely to the wind and make a run at Metta World Peace?
Each move offers its own amounts of risks and rewards, some with greater amounts of risk and greater amounts of reward mind you. With a guy like Gary Neal, you basically have a Jerryd Bayless clone. Do we really want two guys coming off the bench who's defense and ability to run the point are in a constant competition to see which one is less adequate? If the Grizzlies brought in Nick Young and his streaky offense, it's a virtual guarantee that we'll hear the words "Swaggy P" more than a hundred times throughout the season, and quite frankly, I don't think we've even come close to the level of desperation that would require. Jimmer offers no defense, Ilyasova may cost more than we want to give up, and Metta World Peace still has Ron Artest lurking inside him somewhere. And you know what? All of that is ok.
The Grizzlies don't need a superstar. They were never going to sign a big name. They need a guy who can consistently shoot the ball over 40% from deep to come in and play 8-15 minutes a night, depending on the game, and space the floor for the guys who just got done carrying them to the Western Conference finals. Would it be great if they could handle the ball and guard the man in front of them? Absolutely. (It's not too late to back out on the Bulls, Mike) But I'm not sure there are any of those guys left. The fact of the matter is, whatever move the Grizzlies make from here on out probably wont send trimmers of pysch-itude through our bodies. Its much more likely that it will feel like a declawed, pregnant cat on a porch swing idly swatting at a fly on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And again, that's ok. The 9's and 10's of the world were never coming home with us. The biggest splash the Grizzlies have made over the last few years is trading away the "best player" on the team, not brining in high profile superstars. We don't need much, but we do need something.
The Grizzlies have a really, really good team, and even with the great improvements made by several other Western Conference teams, they still will make the playoffs with relative ease (provided everyone stays healthy). As we all know, just getting in is no longer acceptable to the players, the organization, and the fans. We expect far greater success than just being one of the eight best teams in the Western Conference. We want rings, and banners, and stories to tell our grandchildren. If we are going to get any of those things, it starts with getting a shooter, and the longer the front office waits, the fewer the options they'll have, and the less attractive they are going to be.