Kosta Koufos has decided to sign a four-year, $33 million deal with the Sacramento Kings. The signing of Brandan Wright — while a great addition to the team — brought an end to Koufos' tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was only in Memphis for two seasons and his minutes weren't big, but his impact was felt.
Koufos was traded from Denver, where he was a starter, to Memphis for Darrell Arthur after the 2012-13 season. The trade was a move in the right direction for a team that has never had a real backup for superstar Marc Gasol. Koufos stepped into Memphis after starting 81 games under George Karl in Denver, and was immediately the best and most overqualified backup center in the league. It was a change that didn't slow Koufos down.
As the backup to Marc Gasol, Koufos did everything he was asked and more in his 17 minutes per game. Being Gasol's backup isn't easy, even if some people like to make it out as such. In 17 minutes you have to be involved in one of the league's worst offenses and you're expected to not have much defensive drop-off, and Koufos flourished in his opportunity. At times he was the best defensive player on the court for the Grizzlies — even better than Gasol. He made the defense better when Marc stepped off the floor, which is a huge positive. Brandan Wright has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Koufos didn't fill it up on offense, but he was still able to make an impact in certain situations. He wasn't terrible in the pick and roll or when posting up on the right block, although he'd occasionally get a wild hair and take a jump shot. I hope that never has to happen in Sacramento.
There were times when it was obvious that Koufos should be getting more minutes, but there was no animosity and it didn't prevent him from doing what the team needed him to do when he played. When Gasol went down with a knee injury, Koufos stepped in and did as much as he could to keep the team afloat. Nobody can replace the impact Gasol has on a game, but Koufos did an admirable job in a tough situation.
One big part of playing in Memphis is how you interact with fans, because it is inevitable in a city as small as Memphis that you will run into them. You won't meet one person with a bad story about Kosta Koufos. He was one of the nicest people off the floor. He never had too much time and was always nice.
I'll miss his occasional one handed jams the most.
There was that one time he almost eliminated Blake Griffin. KOSTA SAYS NO WITH TWO HANDS! BUT HE COULD SHOW OFF WITH ONE AT THE SAME TIME.
Koufos didn't fill up the stat sheet with huge numbers or have tons of flashy highlights. He came in and did his job every night. He was the best backup center the Grizzlies have had and most likely will ever have. Now it's time to go get that money, Koufos.