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A Baze of Glory: Memphis Should Sign Kent Bazemore in Free Agency

While early reports have the Grizzlies connected to Chandler Parsons, Memphis' best option may be the young wing out of Atlanta.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this morning, Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted out that the Grizzlies were confirmed suitors in the chase for Mavs free agent Chandler Parsons, a fact that greatly thrilled GBB's new Site Manager, Joe Mullinax:

But while Parsons provides a lot of what Memphis needs (outside shooting, ball handling, etc.), there's a few reasons why the Grizzlies may be better off courting Kent Bazemore out of Atlanta instead.

Health

One of the biggest issues with Parsons is his health. Both of his last two seasons with the Mavericks have been brought to an early close due to knee injuries, the most recent of which included surgery in March to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

For a Memphis team that just used a league-record 28 players and couldn't seem to avoid the injury bug, that has to be disconcerting. Parsons played in just one of the Mavericks' playoff games since leaving Houston. Meanwhile, Bazemore, who comes with less mileage over his four years of NBA experience, started all 10 playoff games for the Hawks last season, averaging over 32 minutes per game.

In a Western Conference in which every game matters, health cannot be overstated, and Bazemore offers the much safer option there.

Defense

Bazemore is also the better defender of the two. While Parsons' offense would be greatly appreciated, adding Bazemore to a starting lineup that includes Tony Allen could allow Memphis to alleviate some of Conley's burden as a defender.

It's worth noting that Bazemore, in his first full year as a starter, posted a defensive rating of 100 per Basketball Reference, while Parsons has never posted anything below a 105. Although Parsons is a better career three-point shooter and has the ability to play some small ball power forward, Bazemore's ability to defend on the perimeter is enough reason to favor him over Parsons in the opinion of this writer.

Celebrations

If there's one thing Memphis fans want to see out of their team, it's passion. With Bazemore, that's something you don't have to worry about. Just check out this highlight reel of bench celebrations from Baze's days with the Golden State Warriors.

No one's ever going to call into radio shows to complain that Bazemore should be waived for not clapping hard enough.

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The biggest question with Bazemore, like every free agent acquisition, is going to be the cost. Early projections had Bazemore's average annual contract value somewhere in the upper teens; GBB's own Matt Hrdlicka even projected Bazemore's contract to come in at around 4 years and $72 million, an average annual value of $18 million.

But as the Atlanta wing continues to draw more and more interest, it's looking like Bazemore might actually turn into Pays-more. Just this morning, Tom Ziller guessed Bazemore would wind up going to Phoenix for 4 years and $84 million, a contract that's much closer to Bazemore's max than originally projected.

Still, even a modest savings over Parsons gives Memphis a little more flexibility to add depth at the wing. And while Parsons certainly would be an exciting addition, Bazemore could be the better addition in the long run.

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