While four teams continue to play toward the ultimate goal in the NBA, for most of the NBA — the Grizzlies included — things have moved into off-season mode. Now, all that can be done is to sit and wait for the draft and free agency to come along so that for a few brief moments, we can talk about our teams and the future.
For now, though, there’s not really much to talk about. Unless you’re a Cavs, Spurs, Warriors, or Celtics fan, your team isn’t playing, and everything that’s being discussed has to be in the abstract.
In other words: IT’S KINDA SLOW AROUND THESE HERE PARTS
Eventually, once we’ve moved past the inevitable Cavs/Warriors threematch, I’ll probably want to talk a little more in depth about the Grizzlies’ offseason, but for now, here are five thoughts on what’s sure to be a big summer for Memphis.
1. JaMychal Green is the key to the Grizzlies offseason
JaMychal Green’s restricted free agency has loomed on the horizon the entire season, and his move into the starting lineup (postseason changes notwithstanding) has only served to emphasize how key Green is to this offseason’s plans.
For the most part, everyone who I’ve talked or listened to seems to think that JaMychal should pull in anywhere from $8-12 million per season in the open market given his restricted status and the fact that he likely won’t be a first option for teams trying to find a power forward. The Grizzlies will have a chance to match whatever offer he receives, and even at the top of that range, you’d have to think Memphis would feel okay about matching.
Of course, then you remember what Allen Crabbe got in restricted free agency last season, and you see tweets like this, which make you doubt everything:
The Nets making an absurd offer for JaMychal Green on a three year deal makes a lot of sense.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 18, 2017
If this does happen, and if Green gets an enormous offer that the Grizzlies just can’t afford to match, the question then becomes, what do they do to replace him? Moving Z-Bo back to the starting lineup is good for that “play the hits” nostalgia, but doing that also undoes so much of what Fizdale strove to achieve in terms of changing the team’s identity. It feels like a step backward.
There’s the possibility of moving Parsons down to the four, which gives you the ability to stretch the floor while also removing the burden of guarding out on the wing from a guy who’s likely not going to be up to that task next season. But trying to build a plan around Parsons is dangerous. You won’t even know if Parsons can play until you’re already into the season. If your JaMychal contingency is Parsons, you need to have a contingency for your contingency.
What other options do you have? I suppose there’s the possibility of playing Wright at the four, but Wright’s had injury problems of his own in Memphis, and Fizdale only played a Gasol/Wright frontcourt for a grand total of 91 minutes last season. And besides…
2. Brandan Wright and (to a lesser extent) Jarell Martin seem to be prime candidates to be dealt
Right now, the front court is logjammin’ like a Jackie Treehorn flick. Going into the off-season, the Grizzlies have: Marc Gasol/Z-Bo/Wright/JaMychal/Deyonta Davis all in the frontcourt, and that doesn’t even include possible small-ball four Chandler Parsons. Between all of those guys, there’s just not enough playing time to go around. The Grizzlies need to clear room.
Wright feels like the obvious candidate to get moved out of that group. He’s an awkward fit with the Grizzlies’ other centers, he’s been frustrated with his role, and he’s on an extremely tradeable contract. Memphis will want to do everything they can to avoid paying the tax, so flipping Wright for something (a couple of second round picks, maybe? I’m no master of trade value) feels like an imminent move.
I’ve started to feel a little less optimistic — or more pessimistic, if that works better for you — about Jarell lately. I just don’t know where he fits in terms of position, or if he’s going to be able to fix the issues he’s had to this point. That said, he still hasn’t had a full, healthy offseason yet, so maybe spending the entire summer in Fizdale’s program will change that.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jarell included in some sort of trade package. The question is if he’d really move the needle enough in a trade deal to bring anything of consequence, and I seriously doubt that.
3. Draft night? What draft night?
The Grizzlies currently don’t have any picks in the draft, and, if we’re being honest, that kind of sucks most of the fun out of the lead-up to the draft. The draft is like Christmas; not having any picks is like knowing you’re not getting any gifts because your mom got you the PlayStation in September and told you it was your “early Christmas present.” Except with the Grizzlies, instead of a PlayStation, you got a few months of Jeff Green.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Memphis trade back into the second round somehow. They have four second round picks for next season, and that, or some combination of Brandan Wright and Jarell Martin or someone else could get them back into the second to take a flyer on a guy to help fill out the back end of the roster for cheap.
4. What will the Grizzlies do with their exceptions?
I’m not going to purport to be any sort of salary cap expert, but based on my crude Excel calculations, the Grizzlies are going to have a tough time clearing any sort of room to make additions if they want to avoid the tax.
Depending on how the JaMychal/Z-Bo/Tony Allen saga plays out, the only way they’re going to be able to add any sort of talent outside of draft/trade/minimum contracts are their exceptions, the biggest of which is the mid-level exception (about $8M per year). There’s also the question of Rade, and I’m not sure what the cap mechanics are for adding him.
P.J. Tucker is probably my ideal addition to this team — a veteran wing who can provide some scoring, but also defense — but given that he’s probably going to cost the full MLE and will have plenty of suitors, that’s probably a pipe dream. Still, I’m hopeful that the Grizzlies can use their exception for some sort of impactful signing.
5. Wayne Selden Jr.
Right now, per Basketball Insiders, the Grizzlies have a team option for Wayne Selden for $1,312,611 that they’ll have to make a decision on by June 24. For me, picking up that option is a no-brainer. It’s affordable, and you’re going to need wing depth, particularly if TA winds up taking a larger offer somewhere else.
Maybe Selden won’t amount to anything in the NBA, but I saw enough in his brief stint with the team at the end of the season and in the playoffs to make me at least want to role the dice here. After all, the Grizzlies already blew their chance at Troy Williams. They shouldn’t make the same mistake with Selden.