The NBA season is over for 28 of the teams in the league. These teams are now looking ahead to the 2015-16 season and are planning their roster adjustments as they look to give themselves the best possible chance of success in the new season.
The Grizzlies are in 'win now' mode, and need to give themselves a shot at the NBA title whilst the Core Four are still intact (provided Marc Gasol stays in Memphis). Memphis' roster should only need a tiny bit of fine tuning to put them in position to compete for a championship: a three point shooter, a back-up big man, and an upgrade at small forward.
I'm going to take a look at some possible trades I would try and make, and free agents that I would try and sign, if I were the Grizzlies' General Manager. I won't be giving my opinion on possible draft picks for the Grizzlies, as the Grizzlies don't have time to build their roster through the draft (mainly because I don't have much knowledge of college basketball outside of the top 5 or 6 players; I'll leave that for the people that do). As we head towards free agency, the Grizzlies will be looking to sign Marc Gasol to a 5-year contract. It remains to be seen what size said contract will be, but it will very likely be a max or near-max deal. If, as expected, Marc signs the contract and stays in Memphis, Kosta Koufos will leave in search of a starting spot. This shouldn't be hard to find for Kosta, as numerous teams have already declared their interest in signing him. This will leave the Grizzlies needing a new back-up center.
Jeff Green would be a fool to turn down his player option and leave Memphis, so it's quite possible that the Grizzlies will explore the possibility of trading him. The Portland Trail Blazers were interested in acquiring Green from Boston before he was sent him to the Grizzlies in January. Could Portland be interested once again? And what do they have to give us in return?
It's also well known that Memphis needs more spacing and a genuine threat from beyond the arc. There may be a few three point shooters available in free agency that could be signed to a reasonably sized contract that would keep Memphis within the cap.
Solving the back-up center problem
Kosta Koufos looks set to leave Memphis in search of a starting spot, leaving the Grizzlies looking for a back-up big man. They've recently been linked with Greg Oden. Oden probably won't play too many minutes if he does sign, but he would make a nice third string center if his knees hold up well enough.
Brandon Wright and Alexis Ajinca are two players who I would look at in free agency. Wright is a player who has always impressed me in limited minutes, though if he were to sign on a contract similar to the contract Koufos has just been on it would mean he would have to take a pay cut. He may be willing to do so to play for a contender.
Alexis Ajinca may be the more realistic option. He's just come off a fine season backing up Anthony Davis and Omer Asik: 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 16.7 points per 36 minutes. He may be ready to step up to a bigger role and could hopefully be signed on a contract favorable to the Grizzlies.
Possible Jeff Green Trade - Number One
Three team trade: Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Magic
Grizzlies receive: Nicolas Batum (Blazers), Evan Fournier (Magic)
Grizzlies give: Jeff Green (Blazers), Courtney Lee (Magic), 2016 second round pick - via Boston (Blazers)
Blazers receive: J.Green (Grizzlies), 2016 second round pick (Grizzlies) - via Boston, 2016 second round pick (Magic)
Blazers give: N.Batum (Grizzlies)
Magic receive: C.Lee (Grizzlies)
Magic give: E.Fournier (Grizzlies). 2016 second round pick (Blazers)
Why Memphis makes the trade
The Grizzlies get Jeff Green off the roster after his uninspiring performance in the 2015 playoffs. Trading for Green in January was supposed to push Memphis towards the title; it did not, and the Grizzlies' performances and record slipped in the second half of the season. The original Green trade was worth the gamble, but unfortunately it didn't pay off and it's time to move him on. Memphis reluctantly lets Courtney Lee return to Orlando, but it has to be done to make salaries match. In return they receive Evan Fournier, who will come off the bench and provide a threat from three point land, 38% in his career (3 seasons), 85-225 in 2015/16 (28.6 mins per game). Courtney leaving will allow Tony Allen to start at shooting guard.
The Grizzlies also receive a fantastic two-way player in Nicolas Batum, who may be allowed to leave Portland as they look to head in a new direction following the failure to advance past the Grizzlies in the first round of the 2015 playoffs. Despite Batum not being at his best this past season, he remains a great player and his poor season could be down to the fact that he had played non-stop basketball for 2 straight years after being involved in the FIBA World Cup last summer. He should return to his best after a prolonged rest this summer. Batum would start at small forward, leaving the Grizzlies with a starting line up of M.Conley, T.Allen, N.Batum, Z.Randolph, and M.Gasol.
Why Portland makes the trade
As mentioned above, Portland could be looking to head in a new direction. In receiving Jeff Green they get themselves a decent sized expiring contract which could come in handy in the summer of 2016, when the new salary cap kicks in. They also receive two second round draft picks which could be used to pick up some nice role players if used correctly.
Why Orlando makes the trade
The Magic have quite a young roster who could use a bit of experience to help them learn their trade in the NBA. Courtney Lee could become a valuable piece for Orlando as they look to push on and get their franchise heading back in the right direction, he would also become a very good back-up to Victor Oladipo.
Possible Jeff Green Trade - Number Two
Grizzlies receive: Arron Afflalo
Blazers receive: Jeff Green
Why Memphis makes the trade
Simple. Arron Afflalo is a big upgrade over Jeff Green. Not only can he shoot the three ball, but he is also a very able defensive player and would fit in very nicely in Memphis. Jeff Green looks set to take up his player option. Arron Afflalo looks set to turn down his player option. Maybe a deal can be struck with Portland so that Afflalo opts in and promptly gets traded to Memphis.
Why Portland makes the trade
As mentioned before, Portland look set to lose Afflalo for nothing. If they can convince him to opt in before they trade him to the Grizzlies, they would then receive Jeff Green, a player they were interested in before he was traded from Boston to Memphis in January.
Adding three point shooting
The Grizzlies won't have vast amounts of cap space with which to go after a top tier free agent, but they should have enough left to go after some very good NBA players who can give Memphis what they need to compete - spacing and the ability to hit the three ball at a decent percentage. Some players who I would go after are: Mike Dunleavy, Gary Neal, Omri Casspi, and Marco Belinelli. All players are unrestricted free agents and could hopefully be signed on pretty small contracts which the Grizzlies could afford.
My roster for the 2015/16 season would be as follows;
PG - M.Conley, B.Udrih, N.Calathes, R.Smith
SG - T.Allen, E.Fournier, J.Adams
SF - N.Batum, M.Dunleavy, V.Carter
PF - Z.Randolph, JM.Green, J.Stokes, J.Leuer
C - M.Gasol, A.Ajinca, 2015 1st round draft pick
The first round draft pick would spend the majority of his time in the D League along with Russ Smith.
What changes would you make if you were GM?