The offseason of the Memphis Grizzlies is, for all intents and purposes, complete. They've gone through the draft, free agency, and Summer League. Barring adding another body to a minimal, semi-guaranteed deal, the roster as it stands now is what it will look like come training camp.
On the surface, the Grizzlies' offseason has been a rousing success. It's nigh impossible to look back over the summer and imagine things having gone any better than they did. But, on the flip side, the team's moves also carry the feel of double-edged swords, with question marks to go with with every exclamation point.
So, with the bulk of the offseason in the books, let's look back at Memphis' major accomplishments and weigh the positives and negatives of each move.
Move: Hiring of David Fizdale to replace Dave Joerger
Positives: Dave Joerger was a good coach during his three-year tenure, guiding the team to the playoffs all three seasons and amassing 50+ wins in the two years he wasn't handicapped by a catastrophic rash of injuries. But Joerger wasn't without his flaws. He all but refused to play his young players, he threw his players under the bus, and his relationship with the front office appeared strained at best and highly contentious at worst. When Joerger asked to interview for the Kings job, the Grizzlies' brain trust decided they'd had enough.
Enter David Fizdale. The long-time assistant was hired from Miami, where he spent the last eight seasons under Erik Spoelstra. So far, opinions on the new Grizzlies coach have been unwaveringly positive. Fizdale's reportedly great with players, he excels at player development, and, as evidenced by the piece by Matt Moore at CBS, he's not afraid to work his tail off for the team. He's also already made a connection with Mike Conley, a move that likely played a hand in Conley's decision to return. Everything that Fizdale brings to the table is a breath of fresh air in Memphis. Fizdale's hire is one that works for now as well as the future as the team prepares to transition to the next generation of Grizzlies basketball.
Negatives: For all of Fizdale's dedication and hard work and track record as an assistant, he's still a first year head coach, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him go through some growing pains. That doesn't mean he can't succeed in the long run, or even this season, but it may take time for him to fully implement his system. He's also mentioned bringing more pace to the team, a concept that Joerger failed to implement. Maybe Fizdale will be different. Maybe the players will buy in this time. I certainly hope so. Until I see it, though, that's all conjecture.
Move: Signed Chandler Parsons
Positives: The Grizzlies finally got the playmaker they've needed so long. As has been discussed at length on GBB and around the internet, Parsons is a perfect fit for Memphis. Not only does Chandler bring excellent outside shooting (career 38% from beyond the arc), but he also brings the ability to both create off the dribble and slide to the four in small ball lineups. Parsons takes pressure off of Mike and Marc as the lone weapons in the offense, as well as allowing Memphis to stagger lineups to ease the burden on bench players to create.
Negatives: Did we really need to add more injury risk to this team? Sure, there may be some recency bias given the disaster that was last season, but that doesn't change the risk that's present on the Grizzlies' biggest names. Marc Gasol is coming off a major foot injury, which, for big men, is never a harbinger of great things to come. Conley is a small guard whose season was cut short due to an Achilles injury. Randolph and Allen are both getting up in years. Parsons may have the most to bring to the table of any potential free agent that Memphis could've added, but adding a guy whose last two seasons have ended due to major knee injuries isn't the most encouraging thing in the world.
Well, at least if another injury-mageddon strikes, it won't be too lonely in the training room.
Move: Added youth around an aging core
Positives: After steadily mortgaging the future for the present, this offseason the Grizzlies looked to have more of an eye to the future. They added draft picks Wade Baldwin IV, Deyonta Davis, Rade Zagorac, and Wang Zhelin (the latter two of which are stash prospects), and then signed James Ennis, Andrew Harrison, and DJ Stephens, in addition to trading for Troy Daniels. Those players, along with guys already on the roster like JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin, and Jordan Adams, give the Grizzlies a nice bit of youth around the aging Core Four and Vince Carter.
If Fizdale lives up to his reputation for player development, and some of the young potential materializes, the Grizzlies look likely to have a base of talent that will help them transition into the next generation of Memphis basketball.
Negatives: The problem, unfortunately, is that they may have too much youth. Baldwin has raw potential and tools, but what happens if the team needs him to play major minutes - whether by design or due to injury - and he just isn't ready? What happens if Harrison and Daniels just aren't good enough to soak up the kind of minutes you need them to play? What if Ennis' success doesn't translate to a larger sample size?
Playing time is important, but it's just as important not to do them irreparable harm, and forcing young players into major playing time before they're ready for it is one way to do just that. It's great that Memphis was able to add youth, but it's worth wondering if they should've added a little more experience to help fill minutes until their young players are ready to take on a larger role.
Don't get me wrong. I think Memphis had an exceptional offseason, and I'm not sure I can think of any way it could've gone much better. I'm excited for this season to start, and I think this Memphis team could, health permitting, be really fun to watch, even if that doesn't mean making the Finals or even the Conference Finals.
Maybe I'm just trying to temper expectations in case the team doesn't gel right out of the gate. Maybe I'm just trying to temper my own expectations in case things go off the rails like last season. Or maybe I'm just being a downer. Either way, as excited as I am for what next year will bring, I think there are some things that bear mentioning.