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Fizdale Compares Evans To D-Wade, & Challenges McLemore To Step Up on D

The Grizzlies were pretty happy to bring in their three new guys.

From left: David Fizdale, Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Chris Wallace
Mac Trammell

The Memphis Grizzlies introduced three new free agent signings today at FedExForum.

Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, and Ben McLemore sat between head coach David Fizdale and general manager Chris Wallace as they were welcomed to the Bluff City—or in some cases welcomed back.

Evans returns to the city of Memphis where he played his college ball. Evans offers the Grizzlies an attacking ball handler who can ably back up the perennially overburdened Mike Conley. Wallace specifically highlighted Evan’s improved three point shooting multiple times, even playfully bringing up this viral video of Evans sinking a tough three.

But if that praise seemed high, Coach Fizdale had to top it.

“Tyreke, I’m just happy I’m not coaching against anymore,” Fizdale said. “To me, he was the closest thing we faced to Dwyane Wade when it came to getting to the basket, being able to draw fouls, being able to finish through contact.”

Evans inked a one-year, $3.2 million deal this summer.

Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, and Ben McLemore pose for pictures at the FedExForum tuesday afternoon.
Mac Trammell

Additionally, this will be Chalmers’ second stint with the Grizzlies. In his first, he averaged 10.8 points, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game and hit some big shots before rupturing an achilles tendon in March of 2016.

Chalmers said he didn’t watch much basketball last season as he rehabbed, missing the entirety of the 2016-17 campaign.

“Going through an injury like that, a lot of people say it’s career ending” he said. “My mindset was to keep fighting the whole time.”

During that time, the Grizzlies maintained a solid relationship with the 31 year-old, a relationship which paid off this offseason for the organization.

“Chris [Wallace] kept checking on me, kept reaching out to me. So, it was only right that I give them the first opportunity, the first crack at a healthy me.”

Due to the franchise’s goodwill towards him, Chalmers agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract with Memphis this offseason.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies
Mario Chalmers (6) drives against Rodney Hood.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

McLemore, though injured, inspires high hopes in both Fizdale and Wallace. The latter again noted the 24 year-old’s steady three point shooting (35.2 percent on his career and a solid 38.2 percent last season) while the former charged him with filling the presumably vacant spot Tony Allen will leave.

“There’s a lot of aspects of his game I really feel like I can help him with to develop,” Fizdale said. “I’m really going to challenge him, obviously, defensively to be a stopper. That’s something that I really want to see him grow as.”

After signing a two-year, $10.7 million contract in free agency, McLemore emphasized his eagerness to accept this new role.

“He gon’ test me on my defense... because I want to be one of the good defenders on this team,” he said.

In regards to his recent foot injury, McLemore said that he anticipates coming back better than before. Evans and Chalmers both also dismissed any lingering injury doubts. Evans made it clear that rehab is over for him and Chalmers hasn’t played in a professional setting in 17 months, giving him more than enough time to heal.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans (32) and Ben McLemore (23) reunite as teammates in Memphis.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s the longest I ever been without basketball,” Chalmers said. “I feel like I’m a better version of me. Just having that whole year off, I took care of a lot of knick-knack injuries. I worked on different spots of my game—my ball handling, my shooting—just to look at all the things that people downgraded me on when I did play and just try to perfect those things and come back and have no weaknesses.”

At the end of the press conference, Wallace declined to comment on the status of restricted free agent forward JaMychal Green.