Site Manager’s note - The Roundtable is back! The playoffs are approaching and the Memphis Grizzlies are in a nice spot finishing the regular season with a full week at home. As the postseason approaches, the mind turns towards match-ups and health, those who must step up, and those who may need to sit down. There’s a little bit of all of the above for Memphis this season, and when you combine that with the possibility of this being the last ride of “Grit and Grind”, this playoff stretch has a different feel than normal.
To discuss this and much more are this week’s Roundtable participants - GBB Video Editor Mark King, GBB Senior Features Writer Kevin Yeung, GBB Features Writer McCarty Maxwell, and GBB Staff Writer Mac Trammell.
When will you be willing to explore "nuclear options" (trade, stretch provision, etc.) regarding Chandler Parsons as a Memphis Grizzly?
MARK KING (@king_producer)- The "nuclear option" is a little far off at this point and I don't think you can even visit that topic until the offseason of 2018. I would stick with Parsons for that time period at the very least - let's not forget why the Grizzlies signed him in the first place. If the Chandler Parsons shows up that played in Dallas or in Houston, this conversation won’t even be remembered. The Grizzlies will at least need to give him a chance to recover from the injury. It is a tough road because it's not like he is playing badly and it just doesn't work with him on the court. If Parsons is still in this situation this time next year, that's when you consider stretching him because at that point it would be very difficult to get someone to take on that contract.
KEVIN YEUNG (@KevinHFY)- Ooh, I don't know. The situation isn't exactly fluid, but depending on his progress in recovery, I could see myself swinging either way on this on a dime. For now, at least, I'm sticking with the guy, and I'd like to remain optimistic about it for as long as possible because I mess with the vision. But, yeah, you have to consider any trade offer as well as your own cap situation. By the end of next season is probably around when I'd really lean into looking for an out, if nothing changes.
MCCARTY MAXWELL (@McCartyMaxwell)- I’m a Parsons believer. I think you have to give him at least one more full season. This season was experimental and the Grizzlies got burned on it. After a full summer of rehab and perhaps playing some summer league games, Parsons could return fully healthy and ready to get back to an NBA player. I don’t mind the stretch provision, that saves cap space for the Grizzlies in the next few years, but that should be used as a last resort. Waiving a player with the stats and experience Parsons has seems a little cruel, so that doesn’t seem plausible either.
I can’t see Parsons getting much value in the trade market. Just like Grizzlies fans are skeptical of his current contract, other teams won’t want to risk taking on a max contract with little to no immediate payoff in the foreseeable future. If he doesn’t produce numbers close to 15-5-5 in his second year, I would look to trade him in the summer of 2018.
MAC TRAMMELL (@Mac_Trammell)- Not at least until he’s played a decent sample size next season. If he can play healthy (which I don’t think he did this year) he’ll be worth it, so we should wait and see what we get from him next year.
Which Grizzly is most important to a Memphis playoff run- Marc Gasol or Mike Conley?
KING- You absolutely have to have both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to play like franchise players, but between the two, its hands down Mike Conley. That's not to say that Mike Conley isn't playing well already, because he has been playing out of his mind lately. There is nothing behind him that resembles a backup point guard you want in the western conference playoffs. Mike is more important because of what this team doesn't have than what it does, when Mike comes out of the game for a rest, the offense grinds to a halt. I am not sure if Coach Fizdale will be able to sit Mike and Marc at the same for the sake of the offense Troy Daniels will also be a key role player to give this team some type of secondary offense.
YEUNG- You get absolutely nowhere without both. For the sake of an actual answer, I'll lean towards Gasol here because his paint defense is that irreplaceable, but if you look at the guys backing up Conley and really the roster as a whole, you just are going to need all hands on deck. I'll also highlight JaMychal Green as well, for his tertiary scoring and especially his stretchier brand of defense, which you don't get from Gasol.
MAXWELL- Mike Conley. With Gasol out the past week and a half, Gasol will be more rested heading into the playoffs. He didn’t look great against San Antonio in his first game back, though I’m not concerned about him hitting his stride in the playoffs. Gasol is averaging the most minutes on the team this season- no doubt he is a huge part of this team. But I see Mike Conley as the true leader and MVP of this season.
Conley has played too much in the last two weeks. He is basically the only consistent scoring option and has held that role quite well. When the Grizzlies need a big shot in the final minutes, Conley is the go-to option. You can see how terrible the offense is when Conley is off the floor, he is the only player that can guard opponent guards, and we need him on the floor. Mike Conley will be the main reason the Grizzlies win games moving forward.
TRAMMELL- Mike Conley because there’s no depth behind him. At least there are guys who can step in ably for Gasol. With Mike it’s just him.
Which scenario do you prefer- a healthy/rested-as-possible roster and the seven seed, or an all-out push for the six-seed with a banged-up lineup?
KING- Rest all of the starters. Get into the playoffs with a healthy roster. It seems like every year the Grizzlies seem to fall apart health-wise right before the playoffs and we find ourselves saying, "if we just had X player" and the Grizzlies have a first round exit. That being said, no match-up is going to be easy or "better" for that matter. They're all bad for the Grizzlies because the teams at the top of the conference are just better. Can the Grizzlies make it to the second round? Absolutely, but you are going to need every bit of the roster to do it.
YEUNG- Health. You never want to play the Spurs in the first round, but the Grizzlies have an actual shot against them if they muster “Full Squad”. It really doesn't matter who they play if they're down even one of their top two guys. Besides, the Rockets aren't that great of a match-up for the Grizzlies either. Gregg Popovich always finds a way to mask his team's weaknesses, but at least with these Spurs, there's a few more of those weaknesses than before.
MAXWELL- If you look at the series match-ups versus the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, the Grizzlies are 2-2 this season. (There is a small chance that the Grizz could face the Golden State Warriors as the two seed, the season series against the Warriors is 2-2 as well.) I don’t love the match-up with San Antonio, especially in the playoffs. We have played them well this season, no game has been a blow out or high scoring. But let’s be honest, no one wants to play the Spurs.
I prefer an all-out push for the six seed. I like the match-up with Houston, plus if we win that series we don’t have to face the Warriors in the next round. I know resting players is a trendy strategy in recent years, but we are talking about NBA players. Injuries are random anyway, they could just as likely happen in the first game of the playoffs than in any of the last four regular season games. Let’s go for the six seed.
TRAMMELL- After last night’s game against the Spurs, I’m more partial to a rested seventh seeded team. Plus, Russell Westbrook is supernova-ing right now, so I don’t feel like OKC is going to give up ground for the sixth.
What must happen in the postseason for you to deem this season a "success" for the Memphis Grizzlies?