With most of the attention on Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Dwyane Wade, the offseason for the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t receive enough positive recognition. The re-signing of Mike Conley and signing of Chandler Parsons were overshadowed by Durant’s choice to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in favor of the Golden State Warriors. But the Grizzlies received a positive grade for their work in the offseason from Sports Illustrated.
What grade did they give Memphis?
Ben Golliver gave the Grizzlies a B+.
Via Sports Illustrated:
Make no mistake, the Grizzlies would have been in super duper trouble had Conley not agreed to stay on a five-year, $140+ million contract. Memphis would have been stuck turning over the point guard keys to rookie Wade Baldwin or chasing a veteran downgrade in free agency. Their experienced frontline pairing of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph would have needed to build rapport with a new floor general after years of getting fed by the affable Conley. And Chandler Parsons almost certainly wouldn’t have chosen to sign in Memphis given the organization’s dim outlook sans Conley
Instead, the Grizzlies did what the Thunder and Hawks could not do: keep their guy by throwing bags of long-term money at him. With that mission accomplished, they then turned their attention to recruiting Parsons, who when healthy is a perfect positional fit given his shooting, secondary playmaking skills, and two-way game. After years of striking out in pursuit of wing talent and floor-stretching options, Memphis took a calculated risk by paying Parsons $94 million over four years after he missed a quarter of last season with a knee injury. While Parsons’s health might have scared off many teams, Memphis needs to make the most out of the Randolph/Gasol golden years and it has very, very little else on its wings at this point. If Parsons stays healthy, the Grizzlies should have one of the best starting lineups in the West and, given Memphis’s roster life cycle, that’s enough at this point to justify the investment.
The Grizzlies’ other moves were, obviously, much less expensive: they signed forward James Ennis and guard Andrew Harrison, while also adding Baldwin and Deyonta Davis through the draft. First-time coach David Fizdale will welcome the newcomers as they bring some much-needed youth to the organization’s talent pipeline.
Much like Portland, who spent big to keep its up-and-coming roster intact, Memphis is well-positioned to capitalize if second-tier teams like San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Clippers regress in the standings after taking some offseason hits. The Grizzlies’ relatively quiet summer turned out to be a pretty good one.
In a season projection article by ESPN and Kevin Pelton, Pelton’s projection system predicts the Grizzlies to win 39 games and to miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
After a season that was filled with injuries, a healthy Grizzlies squad can potentially contend for the third seed in the Western Conference. However, if injuries plague the team again, they might be on the outside looking in.