It’s time for a new installment of the GBB Mailbag! The Grizzlies have turned things around in the wake of Chandler Parsons being shut down for the season. Does Parsons have any trade value? And just how far can Memphis go now that a set roster is established for the playoffs?
We tackle that and more in this week’s mailbag. Participating this week are GBB Senior Feature Writer Brandon Conner, GBB Feature Writer McCarty Maxwell, and GBB Game Coverage Writers Jack Noonan and Ross Jarrar.
From Jared Cox- Do you think the Grizzlies have a chance to sign Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and JaMychal Green? And what are some possible replacements in free agency for them?
Brandon Conner (@ballfromgrace)- I don’t want to go too far into this (Matt Hrdlicka has already talked about this much more intelligently than I ever could), but my assumption to this point has been that they’ll be able to keep two of the three dependent on two things: What sort of offer does JaM get in restricted free agency, and are TA/Z-Bo willing to give the team a “hometown discount” to stick with the franchise they’ve helped build?
Right now, TA feels like the most likely player to move on, and if he does, I would very much like the Grizzlies to add P.J. Tucker. I have no idea how realistic this is given all the constraints, cap and otherwise, but I would very much like Tucker on this team.
McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell)- JaMychal will be back next year for sure. I expect him to ask for a large contract once his current one is up, but he will have to prove that he worth it. Tony Allen can still play, yet his numbers are decreasing a little and you can tell he is getting older on the court. He isn’t an expensive player to have relatively speaking, and the city of Memphis loves him. I can’t imagine any other city would get behind his style of play like Memphis does, so I see him re-signing for a two or three year deal.
Zach Randolph is a tough one. He will be expensive no matter where he goes and that will be hard for the Grizzlies to swallow. The salary cap isn’t going up as much as it was originally projected and will three max players on the roster already, if we re-signed Z-Bo that would leave little room to add other pieces that we will need. He is getting older as well, I think we have a good chance to sign him for sure, but we have to figure out if we want to pay a steep price for a 35 year old bench player. For the Shooting Guard position, I’d test the waters for a few names like Kyle Korver, Tim Hardaway Jr., or even J.J. Redick depending on price.
Jack Noonan (@jnoonan1307)- This will be a great offseason article for the future, but, for now, we can keep it short to best answer the question. Unfortunately, this offseason the salary cap will only grow 8 million more to projected 102 million according to SportsTrac. With that being said, the Grizzlies will not have as much room to dish out the money as they did last year.
The Grizzlies have four free agents to make decisions on this free agency. Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Vince Carter will be unrestricted free agents and JaMychal Green is a restricted free agent, which means Memphis has the chance to match any offer Green receives from another team. These decisions will be made with about 10 million of room to work with (without factoring in going over and paying luxury tax).
So, to finally answer the question, no I do not see them signing back all of them. I believe they will match a big offer for Green because of his relative youth compared to the other two, but without pay cuts (which may happen from Zbo and TA out of city loyalty) it will be hard to sign all three with limited cap space.
As for other free agents, Terrence Jones for cheap would be an interesting fit as another athletic big man to play alongside Gasol.
Ross Jarrar (@asaprockytop)- I don’t think all 3 are going to be on the 2017-18 roster. JaMychal Green rebounds and can stretch the floor, and that’s always going to be a commodity to teams, so I think Grizzlies might be outbid for him in free agency anyways. The Grizzlies probably would love to have JaMychal Green back, but if he gets any Allen Crabbe or Evan Turner offer (sorry, Portland), the Grizzlies might not fight too hard to keep him. With Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, I think that maybe only one of them might be back. Z-Bo has been a tremendous 6th man and Tony Allen is the best SG the Grizzlies have, but there is only so much cap space. As great as the Grit N Grind Grizzlies were, we can’t pay just based on that. If I had to pick, I’d say Tony Allen would be gone. He doesn’t fit Fizdale’s more wide open offense and although he’s perennial FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE, it’s not going to be 2011 forever.
As for replacements, I think the Grizzlies might mainly stay in-house. I think Deyonta Davis would do a pretty solid job playing alongside Marc Gasol instead of JaMychal. He’s played limited minutes, but Davis has shown some promise. Offensively, Gasol can play at the 3-point line and let Davis do the offensive rebounding and defensively Davis is already a decent rim protector.
Meanwhile, if the Grizzlies do split with Tony Allen, I would love to see someone like Robert Covington as a Grizzly. He’s a solid 3-and-D player and bring extra athleticism that Memphis sorely needs.
From Christopher Boling Jr.- Does Chandler Parsons have any trade value and if so, who would take on the contract?
Conner- At this point I think it’s less about Parsons’ trade value and more about whether or not some team would be willing to eat the remainder of the contract in exchange for a draft pick. Brooklyn might be willing to do that deal, but the picks that Memphis would have to give up (plus maybe some young talent?) would be rather unpalatable. We’re talking potentially throwing away another first rounder, and for a team that’s still trying (in my estimation at least) to stock the cupboard for the post Mike/Marc era, that’s something I’d seriously want to avoid. For now, the Grizzlies are just better off hoping this surgery turns out well, and next season Parsons is at least close to what he was in Dallas.
Maxwell- You have to consider cap space because of Parsons max deal, but there also has to be a need for a small forward. That position is very saturated in today’s game, but there are a few teams that could potentially take the contract after the new salary cap is released for 2017. The first team that seems legitimate is the Boston Celtics. They have three SF but none that can score and handle ball like Parsons. The problem with them is that Memphis would get a lump sum of garbage in return. Utah seems like a nice fit as well- Gordon Hayward might have to play the SG or PF, but they have the most cap space and could potentially give up a few mediocre pieces in return. I don’t think Parsons has much trade value, he has yet to prove anything since joining Memphis. Until he shows signs of consistency on the court, he won’t be worth much in the trade market.
Noonan- No, unfortunately not. After this season, Chandler “The Bandit” Parsons is owed about $72 million to finish out the last three years of the deal. There is no way out of this deal for them until a team maybe wants to buy out the last year of his contract. It becomes interesting though because normally you see this with teams who are not competing. For example, the Magic got rid of their Serge Ibaka contract with one year left for a cheaper Terrence Ross, but more importantly a first-round pick. However, where will the Grizzlies be two years from now? I highly doubt they will be in “sell to contenders” mode, so Memphis just has to hope Parsons can be the player they paid him to be. In the meantime, The Bandit will keep cashing in those checks.
Jarrar- For Chandler Parsons to have any trade value as-is, the Grizzlies might have to also give up a 1st-round pick for someone to take the contract. Teams won’t have the bounty of cap space that they had last year so they’ll be a lot smarter about taking on max contracts to their payroll. If a team were to trade for Parsons, they’d have to be really desperate for wing help to bet on Parsons turning out to be an effective player for the rest of his contract.
That being said, I can see the Pelicans being interested in Parsons. They need better wings than E’twaun Moore and Solomon Hill, and they’ve already swung for the fences with the DeMarcus Cousins deal. If they’re going all-in on Boogie and Brow, then why not take on a big contract of a player that could get healthy be back to his old form? But unless that happens, I don’t see any glaring fits.
From Steven Stone- Do you think the Grizz would be better off if they were in the Eastern conference?
Conner- In terms of their ability to go deeper into the postseason, yes. The East has some decent teams in the top tier (Cleveland, Boston, Washington) but nowhere near the depth that the West has, so maybe the Grizzlies could’ve made a couple more conference finals in the East. But the East also has this guy named LeBron James, who’s been to six straight (!!!!!!) Finals, so there’s still that to consider.
Oh, also, fans would be much better off if the Grizzlies were in the East because there’d be less west coast road trips and late games, which always suck.
Maxwell- There’s no doubt that the Grizz would be better in the East. They would be a comfortable fifth seed in the East right now playing Toronto who Memphis matches up well with. In the pass five-ish years, the East has been inferior to the West in the regular season. The Grizz are 40-31 on the season, and that’s versus majority Western Conference teams. If they played a schedule filled with Eastern Conference teams they probably would have won fifty games by now. The grass always greener…in the East?
Noonan- Absolutely they would. According to win percentage, the Western Conference has the three best teams in the league. As their record stands, the Grizzlies would be the 5-seed in the East only about five or six games away from the 1-seed. In the West, they are sitting in the 7th spot without much hope of anything better than the 4-seed. Seeding matters especially with the top 3 teams in the West. If they could get a home court advantage first round, it would be much better than what they have in the West.
Jarrar- I don’t think so. Strengths of conference and division are pretty cyclical and don’t have much stability anyways. 2 years ago every team in the Southwest division made the playoffs. This year Dallas and New Orleans are in the lottery. 3 years ago the Western Conference had depth because the Phoenix Suns missed the playoffs even with 48 wins. This year the 8th seed in the West might just end up with a losing record. These things ebb and flow.
There is a clear advantage to being the Eastern Conference and that’s the travel. The Grizzlies would only have to make west coast road trips only once a year and a lot more Eastern teams are more tightly packed together.
From Timothy Leung- Given the current roster and standings in the west, does the team have any better chance of reaching the conference finals (or actual finals) than in previous years?
Conner- The chances are definitely better than last season, considering that team used 28 players and was a borderline unwatchable disaster.
Other than that? I dunno. Every team in the Western Conference has flaws (at least, Golden State has a little bit of a weak spot while Durant is out), but it’s going to be tough sledding for the Grizzlies. They likely won’t have home court in any series they play, but they’ve proven they can hang with the best teams in the West, so you give them a puncher’s chance against anyone. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if they made it to the WCF (or the NBA Finals, if they make it that far) but I’d still call it a long shot.
Maxwell- I think they have a shot at the conference finals, for sure. The biggest determining factor in making that happen will be their first round seeding. Right now (subject to change literally everyday) we would match-up with San Antonio. We do not want that. Really we want to be the four or five seed so we can play Utah, but then if we won that series we play Golden State. It’s going to be a tough road no matter which draw we get in the first round. The top seven teams in the West are all capable of making a run to the Finals, we just have to peak at the right time. The Grizz are playing good basketball right now (last night excluded), we just have to keep that up for another month.
Noonan- Not really, no. It is a shame too because there are a lot of great pieces on this team. However, the competition in the West is just too much. Unless they can squeeze up to the four or five seed, I do not see them beating the Warriors, Spurs, or Rockets in a seven-game series. Even with a near perfect record during this season against the Warriors and Spurs, the playoffs are a different beast and we have not seen this Grizzlies core get over the hump.
The game picks up to another level and I don’t know if this Memphis team can take down a superior team with home court advantage. However, this is the best shot Memphis has to pulling a first-round upset. The team is only missing Parsons, so it will be interesting down the stretch how they approach another playoff series.
Jarrar- I’m going to say there’s less of a chance this year than prior years, last year excluded. The 2012-15 Grizzlies seemed to more primed for deep runs because of how physical they were. The Grizzlies weren’t ever tough outs and Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol would just beat teams into submission. The 2015 Grizzlies even had a 2-1 lead on the Warriors (with an injured Mike Conley even) until they put Andrew Bogut on TA and the offense couldn’t keep up.
The Warriors blowing past the Grizzlies was a premonition. The Grizzlies won’t be able to keep up with teams that space the floor and shoot more threes than them. Also, this Grizzlies team isn’t as good as those early 2010’s (that feels weird to write) teams, and they’ll potentially have a Spurs-Rockets-Warriors path to even making the Finals. Those teams are head and shoulders above the rest of the West, and I’m not confident in the Grizzlies’ chance to get past them.