The NBA is entering an unprecedented era of team building. The fad of playing for one team for an entire career has become a thing of the past. Players have taken to jumping ship every year for greener pastures. Paul George, Kevin Durant, Gordon Hayward, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, and even former Memphis superstar Rudy Gay have recently relocated into situations that offer them a chance to chase post season glory.
That fad isn't changing any time soon. A short list of possible free agents in the summer of 2018 includes Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Joel Embiid. The league will remain in this "recruit or rebuild" phase for the foreseeable future.
Memphis Grizzlies fans surely are asking the following question: Where do we fit in all of this? Make no mistake, there is virtually no chance any of the above free agents ever even schedule a meeting with the Bears of Beale. Memphis just isn't a trendy option for the high dollar free agents of the NBA. The task falls to Chris Wallace, John Hollinger, and the rest of the Grizzlies Front Office to build a competitor anyway.
Despite the lack of glamour and appeal, the front office has done a fantastic job taking calculated risks this off season to give the Grizzlies a chance to be relevant in the loaded Western Conference. Though the team will look significantly different in 2017-2018, Wallace seems to be building the Grizzlies for the modern NBA.
Out the Door...
Losing the three headed older monster of Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Vince Carter is a real shot to the hearts of many Grizzlies fans, this writer included. It is going to be really hard to turn on the first game of the year and not see those guys running up and down the court for Memphis.
Understand, though, that the NBA is a business. Chris Wallace made the right decision letting all of those guys walk. David Fizdale has a vision for a modern version of Grit and Grind, and these three old timers just don't quite fit in it. Often teams can set themselves back years by offering guys past their prime big deals to keep them in the same arena. Though its hard to see some of these Grizzlies icons walk out the door, it allows for future flexibility and might even move the needle in the affirmative for Memphis.
The Grizzlies front office has done an unbelievable job tweaking a roster that was lacking both youth and athleticism as recently as two seasons ago. The Grizzlies have added four players this summer that figure to factor into the rotation in 2017-2018. Though none of the free agents that committed to Memphis this summer are front page news, the Grizzlies have filled some glaring holes on the roster.
Mario Chalmers - Backup PG?
A healthy Chalmers fills perhaps the most glaring hole on the Grizzlies roster. The Grizzlies are devoid of any backup point guard option. Andrew Harrison supporters aside, the Grizzlies have no proven primary ball handler outside of Mike Conley, so they went out and found one. Chalmers long history with David Fizdale figures to have played a large part in the signing of the veteran. If healthy, the Grizzlies have themselves a steal here. Before his season ending Achilles injury in 2016, Chalmers averaged 10.3 points and almost 4 assists a game for Memphis. As far as low risk signings go, this has the chance to be a high impact pickup for the Grizzlies.
Side Note: This signing is really bad for Wade Baldwin IV and Andrew Harrison. Not a great vote of confidence from Memphis brass to go sign another PG.
Ben Mclemore- Shooting, Youth, Athleticism
The Grizzlies went out and took a chance on the young Shooting Guard from the Kings. This signing was met with some moaning and groaning from the Memphis faithful on Twitter, but this is a fantastic pickup for the Grizzlies. Banking on a change of scenery, the Grizzlies feel that McLemore can come in and be plugged right into the starting unit. As an above average athlete and good shooter, he is exactly the kind of signing that Memphis has to make to stay relevant. As a 38% three point shooter last year and all the tools to be a plus defender in the NBA, this signing could look like a steal before long.
Here's hoping a change of scenery is the boost that McLemore needs to begin to live up to the hype of being a top 10 pick.
Tyreke Evans - Wing Depth, Scoring, 2nd Unit Leader
Evans gets to experience a homecoming of sorts as he played his one year of college ball for John Calipari and the Memphis Tigers. His 1 year, $3.3 million contract is a steal. If he can stay healthy he will fill the role of second unit leader that Zach Randolph occupied this past year. Though the Grizzlies faithful were undoubtedly sad to see Randolph go, Evans has a chance to be a much more efficient scorer for the bench unit. The problem with Randolph in the modern NBA is that he is a ball stopper. When the ball went in to Z-Bo in the post, it was rarely coming back out.
The ball will move better with Evans running the second unit, and it should make for a lethal bench for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Young Grizzlies- Shooting, Youth, Swing Forwards
Rade Zagorac and Dillon Brooks were recently signed and will be members of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2017-2018. Their inconsistent play in the Vegas Summer League, especially Zagorac, is cause for concern, but he will be in the mix to get minutes the year for the Grizzlies. They both can play either forward position, and with the contract status of JaMychal Green still up in the air, that becomes a valuable asset for Memphis. Zagorac and Brooks both will benefit from some time around Chandler Parsons as well as with development they all have very similar skill sets. Though Zagorac may not be a featured member of the second unit, both Brooks and Zagorac will have opportunity to contribute.
Though the Grizzlies have not had the kind of marquee signings like Western Conference foes Minnesota and Denver, Chris Wallace has tweaked this group to remain competitive. Grit and Grind of yesterday may be gone, but today's NBA is dictated by space and pace. The Grizzlies continue to change with the times, and 2017-2018 promises to be a memorable season for Memphis.