The sting of playoff defeat is still fresh to the faithful Memphis Grizzlies fans. What if Chandler Parsons was healthy all year? If only Tony Allen was active for the series against the San Antonio Spurs, he could have slowed down Kawhi Leonard! If only the officials hadn’t cheated the Grizzlies out of a possible Game 2 comeback. The excuses are endless.
Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that the Memphis Grizzlies were just not good enough to win a championship this year. There is no shame in that. The bottom line remains that there are really only five teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the NBA championship this year. Outside of Cleveland, Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, and Boston, one would be hard pressed to convince this writer that any other team has a tangible chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
So where do the Grizzlies go from this point? Getting their current roster completely healthy is objective number one. A healthy Chandler Parsons makes the Grizzlies a real threat to attain a top four seed in the loaded Western Conference. A large contingency of Memphis fans already feel as though the contract is a colossal failure. That being said, Grizzlies fans will soon forget their angst if they can get 65-70 games out of the $94 million dollar man in 2017-2018. If he returns to form and averages anywhere close to his ‘14-’15 stat line (16 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 38% from distance) then Memphis fans will soon forget his disastrous first year.
NEEDS: Backup PG, Shooting, Wing Depth, Backup PF
Andrew Harrison advocates aside, the Grizzlies have serious holes in their backcourt. Backup PG is a great place to start. Perhaps Wade Baldwin IV can have a great summer and grow into that role next year. Perhaps Harrison continues his confident playoff series and carries that into the permanent role next year. Troy Daniels is a fantastic stand still shooter, but struggles enough defensively to make Fizdale hesitate to play him.
Chances are strong that the Grizzlies lose one or both of their PF’s this offseason. Zach Randolph may seek a payday too large for the Grizzlies to take on, and Jamychal Green only needs one team to balloon his contract and make Memphis unwilling to match. Gut feeling on this is that the Grizzlies are able to keep at least one of Randolph and Green in house, though losing one still leaves a gaping hole in the frontcourt.
Let’s take a look at a few players who could fit for Memphis in 2017-2018
Patty Mills (UFA)
Patty Mills was a killer in Game 5 vs Memphis. He is a pesky defender and an above average offensive player. He would be a huge upgrade at the backup PG position with 2016-2017 averages of 9.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 2 rebounds a game. Though he seems like a “Spurs Lifer”, rumblings of San Antonio pursuing Chris Paul could create a log-jam at the position. Memphis brass would be wise to make a run at Patty Mills to solidify the backup PG position, depending on cost.
J.J. Redick (UFA)
JJ Redick is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA. Even at 32 years old, Redick is still an absolute terror to guard. Despite his limited athleticism, he is a serviceable defender and big enough to help rebound when necessary. Bolting the hated Clippers for the rival Grizzlies seems like a stretch for Redick, but not when you look a little closer. Redick was actually born in Tennessee, and Memphis fans would love to see him come back to the Volunteer State. If the Grizzlies were to swing this signing, it would make Troy Daniels expendable, as their skillset is almost identical. Moving Daniels (in addition to perhaps Brandan Wright) could open up an extra $3 million in cap space if the Grizzlies were to snag Redick.
Bojan Bogdanovic (RFA)
The casual NBA fan may have never even heard of Bojan Bogdanovic. After languishing on the Nets, Bogdanovic has found a friendly home in Washington for the Wizards. The problem for Washington is that they are more than likely to match any offer for Otto Porter Jr. This makes it likely that Bogdanovic will be playing in a new city next season. A light rebounding forward, Bogdanovic shoots the 3 ball as well as anyone. Rolling him out there would create some serious space for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Nikola Mirotic (RFA)
Nikola Mirotic fills two needs for the Memphis Grizzlies. He can eat up minutes at the PF spot, and he has the ability to shoot the heck out of the ball. He came into the league with a considerable amount of hype, but has disappointed since his rookie season. The Grizzlies would be wise to at least put in a call to Mirotic’s agent and see if there is any mutual interest, although that would mean the likely end of Zach Randolph and/or JaMychal Green with the Grizzlies. Unfortunately he is a restricted free agent, so Memphis might have to get creative (see Tyler Johnson 2016) with his contract to pry him away from the Bulls.
Ersan Ilyasova (UFA)
Ersan Ilyasova is a rugged forward that has been well traveled in his NBA career. Though not a household name, Ilyasova is a surprisingly good rebounder and above average shooter that would fit very nicely into Memphis’ core of players. Coming off a year in which he got traded from the 76ers to the Hawks, the Grizzlies could be in the market for his services. This position becomes especially important if Memphis loses one or both of Zach Randolph and Jamychal Green.
Tyreke Evans (UFA)
Tyreke Evans spent his college playing days in Memphis playing for John Calipari. Perhaps the Grizzlies could convince him to come back to Memphis and provide the bench with some added scoring punch. Though not the most efficient scorer out there, Evans would bring a certain level of offensive aggressiveness to a second unit that really needs a player that can create his own shot. Putting him on the floor next to James Ennis III and Troy Daniels would be a fun bench group to watch. Only downside is the price tag may be a bit high for the Bears of Beale.
Ben McLemore (RFA)
Ben McLemore has been a disappointment since he was drafted 7th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Grizzlies could be in a position to take advantage of that and give McLemore a fresh start. The ability is clearly there. His jumper looks good, he is a fluid athlete, and best of all - he is still just 24 years old. If the Grizzlies could swoop in and find a way to make this work, it could be a match made in heaven. As a career 35% three point shooter, McLemore could be a great fit in the 901.