Last year, the Memphis Grizzlies set an NBA record for most players used, shuffling 28 different players onto the roster due to a rash of injuries that’s best described as “apocalyptic.” Through the second half of the season, it was possible to turn on a Grizzlies game and see a number of faces that hadn’t even been on the team days before.
So what happened to all of those guys? Where’d they end up if they’re no longer wearing Beale Street Blue? We took a look at all 28 players to see where they are.
Of the 28 players who were on the Grizzlies roster last year, 10 of them will be returning for the 2016-17 campaign:
Jordan Adams; Tony Allen; Mike Conley; Marc Gasol; JaMychal Green; Vince Carter; James Ennis; Jarell Martin; Zach Randolph; Brandan Wright
Most of them return on their contracts from last year. Only Mike Conley, who signed his oft-discussed max deal in the offseason, and James Ennis, who signed for the room exception, return on completely new contracts. Ennis is the more interesting of the two. After coming over in the deal that also brought Mario Chalmers to the Bluff City, Ennis was waived, spent time in Iowa, and then finished the season in New Orleans, where he played well enough to earn a two-year contract with the Grizzlies.
Moved on to Greener Pastures
As for the Grizzlies players who did not return to the team this season, it’s worth pointing out this one very, very, very important fact:
COURTNEY LEE GOT THE BIGGEST CONTRACT
Lee signed a four-year deal worth a little over $48 million dollars with the Knicks, where he’ll be a crucial piece in what some are calling the “NBA’s Other Super Team.” (Note: “some” in this instance means Derrick Rose.) Lee joins Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and whatever’s left of Joakim Noah in the Big Apple.
A few other players picked up decent-sized contracts in the offseason as well. Matt Barnes heads back home to
the Underworld California, reuniting with Dave Joerger in Sacramento on a two-year deal worth $12 million and an option on the second year.
Also, Jeff Green convinced the Magic to give him $15 million for a one-year contract because (apparently) Orlando really is the most magical place on earth.
As for the rest of the contracts? Well, they weren’t quite so lucrative. Chris Andersen signed a one-year veteran minimum deal with Cleveland, where he’ll be reunited with LeBron James. Elliot Williams also signed a one-year minimum deal (with a reported “strong” partial guarantee) with the Golden State Warriors, who blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. (Ed. Note: Bravo! -KY)
Beno Udrih and Briante Weber both took their talents to South Beach, Beno returning on a one-year minimum deal while Weber received a two-year, partially guaranteed deal. Ray McCallum, meanwhile, headed up north and signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Pistons.
That leaves only Jarnell Stokes to discuss. Like Udrih, Stokes was sent to Miami in the Chalmers trade, only to spend most of his time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the D-League. In February, he was traded again, this time to New Orleans, where he was promptly waived. Stokes then spent the rest of the season with Sioux Falls, where he wound up winning the D-League MVP.
Stokes just recently signed with the Nuggets, where he’ll have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot on a team that’s got a decent crop of young talent.
Two of Memphis’ players will be heading overseas to play, and both will be suiting up in Turkey. The first is Bryce Cotton, who signed with Anadolu Efes in late August.
The other is former Louisville Cardinal Russ Smith, aka Russdiculous. It will now be up to Turkish club Galatasaray to #FreeRuss, who was waived by the Grizzlies back in December of 2015. (Author’s note: I am still mad about this and I hope Russ is back on an NBA roster soon.)
We’ve covered 75% of last year’s roster. But what about the other seven players? The rest are still free agents, floating out there in the ether.
Likely the most prominent of those is Mario Chalmers. Chalmers, who despite his brief playing time in Memphis, managed to become a fan favorite, was just recently cleared to get back on the court after rupturing his Achilles last year. It remains to be seen when Chalmers will be ready to play in the NBA, but when he’s ready, his list of suitors could include Memphis, as well as a title contender like Cleveland.
After having his $9.4 million option declined by the Grizzlies, Lance Stephenson has found the market to be somewhat cool. This is, of course, the nice way of saying that he’s found no market. As far as I can tell, the closest Born Ready has come to a deal is the workout he had with the Pelicans. It looks like the Grizzlies made the right call on not picking up that option.
As for the rest? They’re all still without contracts. P.J. Hairston, Xavier Munford, Alex Stepheson, and Jordan Farmar all have no contracts, guaranteed or otherwise, at the moment. Even Ryan “Booty Call” Hollins finds himself without a deal, which is incredibly surprising given that Dave Joerger’s new team in Sacramento has such an affinity for centers.
It was a lot of fun checking in on these 28 players. However, let’s hope that the Grizz are blessed with better health in the upcoming season so that we’re not doing a repeat of this exercise next off-season.