Happy 2018, everyone!
Well, it isn’t entirely happy, of course. The Grizzlies are struggling mightily, of course, and even with potential rays of hope on the horizon in the form of Mike Conley things feel bleak. How should Memphis view the impending return of Conley, and what should be done with the Grizzlies MVP so far this season Tyreke Evans?
Those topics and more are the focus of this edition of the Roundtable. Joining me are GBB Associate Editor Jack Noonan, as well as GBB Writers McCarty Maxwell, Brandon Abraham, and Greg Ratliff.
There are reports that Mike Conley is soon to be returning for the Grizzlies. What are realistic expectations for Mike moving forward this season?
GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax)- For him to lead the team and ensure that this season does not become a collection of games in which players go through the motions. Mike is a leader that seemed to be in the mold that David Fizdale wanted out of his best players before he was fired, and when Conley comes back hopefully he will stabilize things a bit. But he cannot, and will not, get this team in to the playoffs. He is not a miracle worker.
GBB Associate Editor Jack Noonan (@jnoonan1307)- The realistic expectation when Conley returns this season should be limited minutes for awhile. Coach Bickerstaff must stagger his minutes to let him fully recover from this injury. At this point, even if he comes back full strength, the Grizzlies are not making the playoffs. So, he needs to be brought back slowly to be 100% for next season (paired with an awesome rookie).
GBB Writer McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell)- Realistic expectations are that he will come back as the player he was 2-3 seasons ago. He will be a 15/4/2 guy, capable of scoring at will, but not the player he was last season. He will automatically bring this team a handful of wins on the season, but he won’t be the X factor that brings the Grizz to the playoffs, the problems are much larger than him.
GBB Writer Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham)- Expectations have to be tempered with Mike’s return. Mike may take awhile to ease back into the form he was in last season, and even if he gets back to that level, it may be too late for the Grizzlies playoff hopes.
GBB Writer Greg Ratliff (@GregRatliff)- I’d like to see Mike just get back into game shape so that next season he can hit the ground running. Put him on a minutes restriction and once the Grizzlies are mathematically out of the playoffs, Mike/Marc Gasol/Chandler Parsons should have as little action as possible to keep them healthy moving forward.
Tyreke Evans is the Grizzlies MVP so far this season. Will he still be with the Grizzlies come the All-Star Break?
Mullinax- No. He will not be, because he will have been traded. Memphis needs to temper expectations here as well, though- most contenders who will be interested in the cheap services of Evans for the next four or five months will be capped out and unable to sign him long-term, just like Memphis. So while a team like Boston may be willing to give up an asset for Tyreke, since they have so many, it won’t be anything of supreme value...like the Grizzlies’ 2019 first rounder.
Noonan- No, he will not. Evans’s value for Memphis is at a peak right now. There will be a contender that will offer the Grizzlies a lottery protected first-round pick. We saw it with Lou Williams and Houston and also with Kyle Korver and Cleveland. Someone will take on his cheap contract for instant offensive production.
Maxwell- I hope not. The playoff hopes are gone, and it would be silly to continue to ride Reke the rest of the season. He will demand more than the Grizzlies can offer in the off-season, and the potential young talent/picks that we would get in return are far more valuable. But since it makes sense for the Grizzlies to trade him, he will probably be here after the All-Star break...
Abraham- Tyreke Evans should absolutely not be a Grizzly at the All-Star Break. There’s no way the Grizzlies can afford to pay Reke next summer, so they need to get maximum value on him while they can. I’d prefer Reke get traded sooner rather than later before he potentially gets hurt.
Ratliff- Should Tyreke be elsewhere? Yes. Will he be? It all depends on what you can get for him. Having an expiring contract is good for everyone involved since there’s less risk involved for whoever acquires him. The problem lies with what teams will offer since it’s an expiring deal. If it’s a pick coming back, I can’t see it being much more than a 2nd round pick, and if it’s players, yikes.
Most likely you’d be looking at someone’s trash contract, which the Grizzlies shouldn’t want any more of.
Which Grizzlies player has been your biggest disappointment of the season so far and why?
Mullinax- It is Marc Gasol, and it isn’t particularly close. He is posting a career worst net rating (-5), his worst PER since 2010-2011 (17.4), and the worst win shares per 48 minutes (.074) of his career. He is either checked out, especially defensively, or he has lost multiple steps...and I am not sure which is worse. He is being asked to do essentially the impossible right now, which is carry a bad team, but he has proven he isn’t capable of doing that. Tyreke Evans is better than him right now, and that spells disaster for the Grizzlies...which is part of why we are where we are.
Noonan- I would have to say Mario Chalmers. When the Grizzlies signed him this off-season, they were not expecting him to have to play this many minutes in the absence of Conley. However, his production has been non-existent to this point. He sits at the bottom of many categories of advanced stats such as offensive wins share where his estimated number of wins contributed due to his offense is -0.5 (worst on the team). It is these stats and his 17.5 turnover percentage (also worst on the team) which makes me call him the biggest disappointment this year for the Grizzlies.
Maxwell- Marc Gasol. Just watch him for five minutes straight in a game, his attitude is awful. He has been playing well offensively, but defensively he is not locked in. He isn’t engaged in the huddle, he sulks on the court if things don’t go his way, and he seems to be playing to get through the season. As a fan, I don’t want a player bringing that sort of negativity into the locker room.
Abraham- Ben McLemore is the easy, $10.7 million answer, but I’m gonna go with Mario Chalmers. I wasn’t as hopeful as other fans about Rio, but he’s been awful for most of the season. Between the poor shooting and turnovers, I’ve been wondering if the team would’ve been better off keeping Wade Baldwin.
Ratliff- JaMychal Green. All of his important stats (rebounds, all shooting percentages) are down from last season. This year should have been a breakout for him based on how he had trended and it’s been the exact opposite. Now we see why he was on the market so long this past summer.