It's been over 48 hours, and we've all had time to let the dust settle on the fact that the 2013-2014 Memphis Grizzlies season has officially come to a close. Sure, it wasn't what we all wanted, and most diehard fans weren't this disappointed with an ending since the series finale of How I Met Your Mother (never forget), but it was still a very memorable season. As we prepare to kick off our offseason coverage here at GBB, the whole gang got together to answer a series of offseason questions.
1. The Grizzlies season is over and you've had some time to let it settle. How do you feel about the ending and this season as a whole?
Keith Edwards: Unfulfilled. Last year, after the season ended, I was completely burnt out. I didn't want to watch basketball, write about it, or talk about it. I didn't even want to look at a basketball. At breakfast one morning after the Western Conference Finals, someone offered me a grapefruit and I completely snapped. But this year, I feel pretty empty, sort of like, "That's it?" and not at all like, "Oh yeah, that's it!" This season was insane, but ultimately not what I was expecting or looking for, and as I result, I'm very disappointed.
Kevin Yeung: Overall, I enjoyed it. It was an up-and-down ride almost the whole way through, but most of the downs were out of the team's control (Marc Gasol injury, Calathes suspension) and it's a testament to the team's resiliency that they fought through it to achieve highs. The first two months were a complete disaster, sure, but from 2014 on, it was great. Marc came back and the team went on some amazing run to get into the playoffs. My only regret is that they didn't have a high enough win total to draw an easier playoff opponent than the Oklahoma City Thunder, but hey, it could've been the San Antonio Spurs. The season didn't end by Spurs massacre, so I'm fully satisfied. Next year will hopefully be better without a Marc injury.
Andrew Ford: It will never not suck to end the season on a loss. But, the season of 29 teams must end that way, and the Grizzlies really overachieved given all they came up against throughout the season. It seemed like every Grizzly rotation player had at least a minor injury at some point or another this season, and rookie head coach was forced to scramble and make do for a lot of the season because of that fact. With that said, any ending against the Thunder was going to be better than flaming out against the Spurs would have been.
Andrew Millen: This season ended in what was probably the most likely scenario after the Grizz clinched a playoff spot. We wanted OKC exactly because we knew we could force a long series and that gave us a better shot. It may not have worked out, but the rest of the west has us to hate for truly awakening OKC - they won't have gone through a series like that without some major upgrades in chemistry and self-evaluation. (The Westbrook and Brooks questions are now more glaring than ever. One or both might not have survived if Memphis had advanced.) Grizz fans should be proud - disappointed, but not bitter.
This season was like Apollo 13 - a successful failure. Our pre-season (pre-launch) expectations went out the door when Gasol went down (the oxygen tank exploded), and as the problems piled up, the original hopes of going back to the WCF (reaching the moon) were abandoned and just getting back to the playoffs (returning to earth) was considered a success. The results might not have been great, but damn, this season would make for a great documentary.
2. The Grizzlies have a logjam at the 2 spot. Do you think all four guards (Allen, Lee, Pondexter, Franklin) will still be Grizzlies at the start of next season?
Chris Faulkner: This is a really interesting situation. We've got two players that were actually acquired by this current Front Office, Lee & Franklin but we've got another two who were both given extensions by the current Front Office, Allen & Pondexter.
We've got Pondexter due $14 million over the next 4 years, Tony Allen due $15 million over the next 3 years, Courtney Lee due just over $11 million over the next 2 years and Franklin making under $2 million for the next 2 years.
If we talk about trade value, Courtney Lee's value has only declined since he was acquired by the Grizzlies as his shooting percentages all leveled off, especially in the playoffs. Teams might like QPon's youth and his friendly contract, but his value is also probably at a relative all-time low considering his start to the season and subsequent injury. No one wants Jamaal Franklin so that leaves us Tony Allen, a guy who's just off an impressive series during which he masterfully guarded Kevin Durant - the best scorer in NBA basketball.
I think someone is gone, and it will be the player they can get the most for in return. It's scary to think that that player is Tony Allen, cuz me heart TA.
Matt Hrdlicka: I peg the chances of returning at: Lee 90%, Tony 85%, Franklin 75%, QPon 50%).
Adam Rubrum: Tony Allen is the only definite on the above list that I would guarantee will still be a Grizzly at the start of next season. A close 2nd would be Courtney Lee though he fizzled a bit down the stretch. Lee is a shooter, and the Grizzlies desperately need any players that can help expand the floor. Franklin is young and on a rookie contract, so I don't think they would trade him unless it is for another young asset. I honestly have no idea what they will do with Pondexter. His contract isn't bad (4yrs;16 mil), so he may be a decent trade asset even with his prior injuries. If the Grizz decide to keep him, I can't see him being used as a starter, though they definitely will need him somewhere in the rotation if they lose Prince and Miller (which I think is highly likely).
Joe Mullinax: I think that you will likely see all of them on the roster, with one possible exception. The front office has connections with Lee, Franklin is their first draft pick and Pondexter just signed a cap friendly deal with Joerger saying in his end of season press conference that Q could push to start at the SF spot.
That leaves the enigma known as Tony Allen. I waiver on his spot on this roster daily; on one hand, he showed a capacity to be able to come off the bench and cause havoc for 5 games for the best offensive player in the world this past season, Kevin Durant. On the other hand, he's getting older, is due $15 million over the next 3 years and is still an offensive liability, despite his growth this season in that area of his game. He also struggled with scheme defense, getting torched by lesser players in games that MEM could've used to improve seeding.
Could the front office possibly cut ties with Zach Randolph AND Tony Allen in one off-season, though? I think people trust this FO a good deal, but those moves, while possibly best for MEM long term, would certainly test that trust. TA trade rumors will pop up this Summer, I do believe that.
Andy Livingston: Yes, but only because Lee and Allen seem pretty versatile, Pondexter never really got on the floor to begin with and Franklin is so much of a mystery in his skills. The only one I could see going is maybe Courtney Lee in another trade deadline type deal unless his shot has remained cold, then maybe he'll get pushed earlier.
3. Assuming Zach Randolph turns down his player option, what sort of deal would you offer him?
Joe Mullinax: I would low ball to start, assuming he values years over everything; 3 years $27 million with a 4th year player option in descending value. $10, $9, $8, $6 million per season. It's a calculated risk; Zach's game is not one that will likely lessen with age, at least offensively, and this would A. give Memphis valuable cap flexibility and B. give Zach years of financial security and a chance to opt out that last season if he thinks he could get 1 more contract with a little more value. It also allows him a chance to opt IN and stick around that 4th season if his skills have diminished more than expected.
The highest I would go is 3 years, $36 million, with the last 2 seasons only being partially guaranteed ($9 million the 2nd season, $6 million the 3rd) with a similar 4th year option, except this one would be a team option. Memphis cannot afford (literally and figuratively) to overpay people because of civil attachment. This is a business, and Zach understands that more than anyone. He will likely be the most valuable PF really available this off-season in FA; he may well get a 3 year $42 million fully guaranteed offer from someone, and if he does, Zach would be crazy to not take it and MEM would be wise to not match it.
Matt Hrdlicka: 4 yr's, 38mm.
Andrew Ford: The most I would offer Randolph would be 4 years, $9 mil. That's stretching it for me, too. I know he's proven he can score and rebound, but at what cost? The offense bogs down and becomes an ugly mess too often when #Feed50 commences. It was a blatantly obvious issue in the Thunder series. When is the front office going to set Joerger up to really play the kind of basketball he wants to play? ZBo does not fit Joerger's style at all, and it's really tough to be imaginative on offense with him out there. *DUCKS* Now, if Randolph agrees to opt out and agree to both a deal for much less money and minimized, bench role then I say bringing him back is a no-brainer.
Chris Faulkner: Ideally I think the FO would want ZBo for 2 years/$20 million. I personally would want him at 3 years/$30 million. I have a feeling though that Zach is going to want 4 years/around $40 million. I'm confident they'll find a good compromise. I'd hope that Zach is too close to this city and the players on this team to let $$ dictate his life at this point.
Adam Rubrum: 3 years; 36 mil at most. ZBO might not be worth that price, but I honestly think if you want to keep him in Beale Street Blue, that is what it is going to take.
4. Of the four Grizzly free agents (Miller, Udrih, Johnson, Davis), who do you think is most likely to be back, and whose days in Memphis do you think are over?
Kevin Yeung: I want to say James Johnson, but I'm taking Mike Miller and that's fine because he's great. Hopefully he's down to stay for a cheap contract again. Having his production on $884,293 (and some extra cash that didn't count against the cap) this season was pretty great. Davis is probably the least likely to return, because of the frontcourt logjam and the fact that even if Z-Bo doesn't return, the Grizz can do better than Boss as a starting power forward. I love the guy, but I don't think he's put it all together quite yet.
Keith Edwards: In order of most to least I'll say Beno Udrih, Mike Miller, James Johnson, Ed Davis.
Beno may appear to be just a rental, but the Grizzlies were interested in him last offseason, and at the moment, Calathes is still slated to miss 13 games to start the season. I believe someone will offer Mike Miller a foolish amount of money, and I believe the Grizzlies won't be able to match it. They'll probably attempt a 2 year, $8-9 million offer, but Mike Miller played every game in the regular season last year, and shot 46% from 3. Someone is going to offer him $11 million, book it. James Johnson meant so much to so many of us, but I think Joerger made it clear, and then I think his production made it clear, that the memory may be all we get. Ed Davis has basically had a foot out the door all year.
Andy Livingston: I think Miller and Johnson will come back. Beno seems to have really enjoyed being in Memphis, but with the Calathes Conundrum approaching the beginning of the season, he will probably not be more than a third stringer. Davis stock seemed to have dropped within the organization due to his lack of playing time and since he is so young, they will certainly get calls on him.
I think Johnson's stock has dropped since his hot start because his shooting became erratic. Due to his past, I did not see him getting a huge contract to begin with, but the shots didn't fall and I bet a summer of hanging out with Tony Allen and Zbo will convince him to stay for another 2 years.
Miller is the one that is a little iffy, no one knows what he wants in his career. Another long term contract? The ability to play every night and let it fly? He already has a ring and a great reputation around the league, so he really could write his own ticket it seems, but we have to remember he did choose to come back to Memphis.
Andrew Ford: Despite Miller's comments on Chris Vernon's show, I still think he's the most likely of these four to be back next season. He loves Memphis, and the money will be doable if that's the route the front office wants to take. The main issue will likely be length. It seems like Miller wants more of a commitment than a one or two year deal, and I think the front office wisely doesn't want to give him that. They haven't improved the roster as they have by making bad moves for the future, and I don't expect them to start now. As for least likely to be in a Grizzlies uniform next season, I think that's Beno Udrih. I was tempted to say James Johnson, but I went with Udrih instead because point guards are just so easy to come by right now. There is really no need to re-sign him and have a third point guard on the roster rotting away on the bench during the regular season.
Andrew Millen: Most Likely: Beno Udrih, because Nick Calathes will be in absentia for the first 13 games of next year. (I also think Beno might be better than Nick, even as much as Nick has gelled with the Grizzlies - remember that if Miller goes, so goes Calathes' go-to on offense.)
Least Likely: Ed Davis, who couldn't even get minutes during a blowout Game 7. Jon Leuer was called instead. That's a pretty searing indictment.
5. Will Tayshaun Prince be in a Memphis' uniform when next season starts?
Adam Rubrum: No, I think he will be traded on or before draft day. Since it expires next year, his 8 million dollar contract will be more attractive to teams looking to rebuild and need veteran leadership. It would be a similar situation to what Utah did this season trading for Richard Jefferson.
Joe Mullinax: No. "The Bright Side" was a one season deal. Tayshaun is going to have an awesome career as an NBA coach someday if he wants it, and he has had a great NBA career. His time as a Grizzly has got to come to an end this Summer, whether it be via trade or long-term waive. His issues offensively are just too much to overcome, and he will only continue to slow as time goes on. It may cost Memphis Tony Allen, Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos or whoever they draft in the 1st round (or some combination of the 4) to trade him, so a long term wavier may be the best bet. It lightens the load on a cap hit and allows for some flexibility.
Matt Hrdlicka: More likely than not, no. His expiring deal paired with Koufos and perhaps a future pick could bring back a decent player.
Chris Faulkner: I think the Grizzlies saw how far that "veteran leadership/locker room glue/smartest basketball IQ in the universe" got them in Games 6 & 7 of the playoffs. They need someone that can change up the game at the starting 3 spot, not someone just just "holds it together." Memphis moves on from Prince and makes a serious upgrade.
Andy Livingston: Sadly, yes. That contract is still looming and he has no assets that are desirable on another team. He eats minutes effectively on the defensive end, but is a total liability on the offense. Now if only Dave Joerger and the front office come up with a solution to having him take so much time...
Keith Edwards: He almost can't be. I think by the end of the draft, we're referring to him as "Former Grizzly, Tayshaun Prince."
Andrew Millen: Who knows. We haven't heard any serious rumors about interest in Tay all season, so it would take a big trade package to get him out the door. Prince is now the heartworm pill you have to wrap in peanut butter to feed to your dog. At this point though, we might could sell a combination of Prince, Z-Bo, and a side of picks and other pieces to a team looking to establish a stingier defense and heavier post presence (Phoenix?).
6. We've got a while before the draft, and several months before the season starts; how are you going to spend your Grizz-free summer?
Joe Mullinax: I am moving back to Virginia June 1, so that'll be a major part of my off-season getting adjusted to a new job teaching and coaching football as Varsity Defensive Coordinator at my old high school and being back in my hometown of Manassas, VA. I will miss Memphis terribly. I am taking the Grizzlies with me though, and will continue my work with GBB and GBBLive heading in to next season and beyond. League Pass is a beautiful thing.
Andrew Ford: WEDDINGS! My twin brother is getting married, and my cousin is getting married as well. Other than that, I'll be catching up on reading and hopefully doing some travelling. I'll also be watching the Cubs if they haven't just completely bummed me out by the middle of summer.
Andrew Millen: I think we underestimate how much NBA drama can be had in the offseason. Last summer had plenty! But in between all that, I've got a friend's wedding in June to go to and you can bet I'll be parked in front of a TV to watch the U.S. lose all three of its group-round stages in the World Cup. I should get a vuvuzela.
Chris Faulkner: I'm doing some major gardening this summer so you'll find me out playing in the dirt quite a bit. Aside from my usual grind you'll still see me around trying to keep everyone entertained on GBB all summer.
Andy Livingston: Because I am a glutton for punishment, most of my offseason will be giving my attention to another small market team with a thrifty front office: The Baltimore Orioles. I'll be doing some regular writing for GBB during the offseason and will probably make terrible draft picks for the team based on my inability to have any appreciation for college basketball.
Keith Edwards: Doing something else. I'm not sure what, but I know it won't be this. I'm at the crossroads of my sports-centric life (and if I'm honest, my life in general), and as my mid-twenties head down the path to my late twenties, I currently find myself in need of something more. You have different feelings after every season ends, and currently, I'm just not feeling it. I'll always love sports, but at the moment, I need something else. Maybe I'll try falling in love again, or possibly go through a hippy phase and grow my hair out long, I might even move from the area, I don't know. All I can say with certainty is I have to find something besides just sports, because it's just not doing it for me right now.